99.9% Purity of Battery-Grade Lithium Hydroxide From Wastewater

Saltworks economically produces battery-grade lithium from waste

September 16th 2021

Saltworks is pleased to announce the successful production of battery-grade lithium hydroxide from industrial wastewater.

Wastewaters from some industries contain lithium in meaningful concentrations. However, economically extracting battery-grade lithium has previously been challenging.

High-Quality Lithium Solids From Industrial Wastewater

“Battery-grade lithium solids are projected to be in short supply as the world’s energy economy turns to lithium ion batteries for transport, grid storage, and more. Today’s announcement is an important milestone—our process opens the door to industrial wastewater becoming a viable source of battery-grade lithium,” said Joshua Zoshi, Saltworks’ COO.

Saltworks’ process harvests lithium hydroxide solids that reach or exceed battery-grade specifications, as confirmed by chemical analysis performed by a third party accredited laboratory. Concentrations of impurities and contaminants were all below industry standard levels, as indicated in a summary table. A detailed composition report of the solids and processing costs may be shared upon request.

Saltworks’ solutions treat a wide variety of industrial wastewaters. The company is applying its next generation technologies to harvesting ions of value from these waters. Last year, Saltworks helped a client recover cobalt, in short supply globally and considered by some to be a conflict mineral.

Table 1. Lithium hydroxide chemistry as harvested from wastewater. Livent battery grade specifications are provided for reference. A detailed third party composition report of the solids and processing costs may be shared upon request.

LiOH
wt. %
Li
wt. %
CO2
wt. %
Cl
wt. %
Ca ppm Fe ppm Na ppm Al ppm Cr ppm Cu ppm K ppm Ni ppm Si ppm Zn ppm

(higher is better)

Saltworks LiOH(H2O)n 58.6 17.1 0.21  <0.001 <9 <5 <20 <2 <1 <1 <10 <6 <20 <7
Battery Grade Spec (Livent) >56.5 >16.5 0.35 0.35 15 5 20 10 5 5 10 10 30 10

Wastewater Lithium Extraction Advantages

Attaching lithium production to existing industrial operations has several compelling benefits, including:

  1. Lithium-containing water is already available, so there is no need for new permits, drilling, or water conveyance.
  2. Many operators have re-use or disposal options available for spent lithium brine, so there is no need for new evaporation ponds or disposal wells because no additional wastewater is generated.
  3. Lastly, industrial operators have established financial, engineering, and project delivery capabilities, making wastewater extraction easier to roll out at scale.

In general, harvesting lithium from wastewater involves two steps:

  1. Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE): lithium is absorbed and desorbed onto a material using chemical processes, ultimately producing a lithium chloride solution of low quality, but with ten times higher lithium concentration than the original wastewater. A wide variety of DLE technologies exist or are being developed. Saltworks is technology agnostic concerning DLE processes and works with clients to select the best one for their project.
  2. Lithium Upgrading and Refining: the low quality lithium chloride solution is processed into high quality battery grade lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide. This is where Saltworks’ core technologies come into play and offer significant advantages to clients.

Outlook for Wastewater Lithium Extraction

Given these results and the increased promise of lithium harvesting, Saltworks is now undertaking further study of wastewater lithium harvest and economics in wastewaters with lithium in excess of 70 mg/L, sustained flow rates greater than 1000 m3/day, and where existing infrastructure can be leveraged. Reach out to the Saltworks team to learn more.

About Saltworks’ Lithium Solutions

Saltworks is a technology provider to the lithium industry and not a resource company. We provide our advanced proprietary lithium refining and upgrading technology, working with the best partners and off-the-shelf technologies. We develop and package entire systems, custom designed to meet client needs. Our fleet of pilot plants is ready for dispatch while our senior scientists and engineers are pleased to help clients work toward their lithium goals using their expertise in water recovery and lithium processing. This includes producing battery grade outputs, developing full scale plant designs and costs, and delivering lithium processing technology.

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