Mining Water for Lithium: ZLD and LCE

Saltworks' new technology map and podcast appearance

June 19th, 2023

Lithium is critical for the clean energy transition and everyday life. It is a key component in phones, laptops, electric vehicles, and renewable energy storage technologies.

Most of the world’s lithium is extracted from either hard rocks or salty brines. Lithium production is typically measured in lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE). The refining of salty brines into LCE products involves “water mining,” making use of industrial desalination technologies commonly known as zero liquid discharge (ZLD) solutions.

Saltworks is pleased to release a new technology map for achieving complete system ZLD and LCE production from repeatable modular process technologies. The map shows two complete examples. Both pathways involve the same digitized building blocks but are arranged differently to meet their intended purpose.

Saltworks' Technology Map for Industrial Desalination and Lithium Refining
Saltworks' technology map for industrial desalination and lithium refining (Download PDF)

Saltworks’ comprehensive ZLD plants are deployed in the mining industry where they treat mine effluent and produce clean water while reducing all contaminants to a solid salt in a crystallizer. The same technology is under the hood of America’s first lithium battery recyclers. Meanwhile, at Saltworks’ demonstration-scale Lithium Test Centre, enough LCE is being produced every day to power a small fleet of electric vehicles. The same repeatable process modules are used throughout.

Saltworks’ CEO, Ben Sparrow, recently appeared on the “(Don’t) Waste Water” podcast, hosted by Antoine Walter (available on YouTube, Spotify and other podcast platforms). The interview contextualizes the technology map, explaining the importance of water technologies in lithium mining while discussing growing demand in both sectors. 

With growing demand and urgency, it becomes ever more important that robust, repeatable, and economic solutions are delivered on short lead times and pre-commissioned offsite to the greatest extent possible. Saltworks’ products and technology map accelerate projects, whether desalting an industrial effluent or refining a lithium feedstock into battery-grade chemicals. 

Saltworks produces everything from single blocks to complete plants. Contact an expert today to learn more about our modular approach, designed to accelerate project delivery and minimize the total cost of ownership.

About Saltworks

Saltworks Technologies is a leader in the development and delivery of solutions for industrial wastewater treatment and lithium refining. By working with customers to understand their unique challenges and focusing on continuous innovation, Saltworks’ solutions provide best-in-class performance and reliability. From its headquarters in Richmond, BC, Canada, Saltworks’ team designs, builds, and operates full-scale plants, and offers comprehensive onsite and offsite testing services with its fleet of mobile pilots.

Related Resources

Photo of battery-grade lithium solids prepared in Saltworks' Lithium Test Centre.

Lithium Test Centre

Saltworks’ Lithium Test Centre combines expertise and industry-leading technology to provide innovative solutions for processing lithium resources into battery-grade outputs. The Centre is dedicated to de-risking lithium processing projects and accelerating full-scale implementation.

Photo of an electric vehicle with a lithium ion battery charging

Lithium Extraction and Refining

Saltworks brings water mining expertise and advanced desalination technologies to our lithium clients, offering solutions for concentrating, refining, and converting low-grade lithium sources to battery-grade product. We offer higher purity and lower energy processing technology, that boosts yield, removes unit operations, and reduces cost.