Lithium Extraction and Refining

Energy and cost-optimized processing for battery-grade lithium

Saltworks offers advanced, modular solutions to concentrate, refine and convert (CRC) lithium brines and spodumene leach solutions into battery-grade products.

Lithium Extraction & Refining

Today, most of the world’s battery-grade lithium is produced by:

  • Lithium brine ponds: concentrating and precipitating impurities from geological lithium brines via evaporation ponds. A highly concentrated lithium solution is subsequently refined and converted into lithium carbonate or hydroxide. These low-cost operations are ideal for the convergence of rich lithium brines and arid climates, such as South America’s ‘lithium triangle.’
  • Hard rock mines: mining, crushing, concentrating and leaching spodumene ores, to produce an impure lithium sulfate or lithium carbonate solution, which is then converted to battery-grade lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide.
Photo of an electric vehicle with a lithium ion battery charging

Saltworks supports both of the above extraction processes with advanced water recovery and lithium refining technology systems. Our modular lithium refining systems offer a future-proof plant on a fast track to high lithium yield, low installation costs, and reduced energy consumption.  

Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) & Refining

To access lithium brines in wet climates and improve lithium recovery, Direct lithium extraction (DLE) is gaining popularity. After prefiltration, DLE systems produce a lithium chloride solution of 1,000 mg/L containing impurities, with leading DLE systems achieving lithium to total dissolved solids ratio >0.08.

Saltworks is DLE agnostic and works downstream of DLE, where we practice concentrating, refining and converting (CRC) technology to produce battery-grade lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide.

Our solutions accept varying DLE eluates and precisely target impurities, concentrate lithium in advanced membrane systems, and selectively precipitate high-quality lithium chemicals.

We offer complete concentrate, refine, convert (CRC) systems or individual unit operations including:

  • BrineRefine removes troublesome ions such as silica, enabling higher recovery processing in membrane systems.
  • XtremeRO & OARO concentrate lithium chloride (LiCl) up to 50% higher than conventional RO.
  • BrineIX performs a high-TDS ion exchange polish for hardness, metals, and boron.
  • LcRx produces battery-grade lithium carbonate in a modular precise single-step lithium carbonation package.
  • CRC-5000 produces high-purity lithium carbonate as part of a complete package.

Learn more about Saltworks’ lithium brine processing systems. 

A simple process flow diagram for lithium processing and refining by Saltworks Technologies
Saltworks' simplified pfd for lithium brine processing

Refining Spodumene Assets

In the hard rock space, we apply our suite of saline concentration, refining, conversion, and crystallization technologies to produce high-purity lithium chemicals from post spodumene leach solutions:

  • BrineRefine removes silica and multivalent impurities.
  • SaltMaker ChilledCrys purges sodium sulfate from the system
  • SaltMaker MVR produces battery-grade lithium hydroxide while achieving ZLD for wastewater streams using fully automated, self-cleaning forced circulation.
A simplified process flow diagram of Saltworks' lithium spodumene hardrock refining technologies
Saltworks' simplified pfd for spodumene lithium processing

Work With Lithium Experts

Lithium mining is water mining. Regardless of the source, lithium is processed into battery-grade chemicals by refining a saline solution, concentrating it, and crystalizing or precipitating a lithium salt.

Saltworks provides lithium refining systems offering high performance, a compact modular package and advanced automation.

To learn more about Saltworks’ efficient refining of high-quality lithium, download our DLE lithium brochure, and spodumene lithium spec sheet or check out our articles on DLE processing and hard rock processing. 

Contact our experienced team to begin optimizing your lithium project today. 

Dried lithium hydroxide solids refined by Saltworks' mini refinery
Dried lithium hydroxide solids refined by Saltworks' mini refinery

Learn more about our Lithium Test Center: in-house mini-refineries, run 24/7 and staffed by Saltworks’ experts.

Related Products

Photo of a full-scale, 2-module, Saltworks BrineRefine plant

BrineRefine Chemical Reactor

BrineRefine is a continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR) that executes diverse chemical reactions efficiently and with precision.