Lithium For Batteries From Waste Geothermal Water

Simbol is an early stage company commercializing zero waste, zero carbon footprint production processes for lithium, EMD, and zinc battery chemicals produced from geothermal brines.

Simbol’s products are designed to meet the high purity needs of the next generation of electric vehicles based on lithium-ion chemistries, and for other energy storage applications.

This new technology develops at a time when high-density batteries production is larger and larger.

Li extraction is a good option, as the demand for Li-Ion batteries for laptops, mobile phones and hybrid electric vehicles is rising. The sales have reached $500 M annually and will triplicate in less than a decade.

The metal is usually extracted either from soil through a water-consuming process or from dried marine salt.

The geothermal waters of the Salton Sea (a saline lake in the Colorado desert, South California) are as rich in Li as the saline lakes of Bolivia and Chile (Titicaca, Chungan). It appears that Salton Sea water can be exploited much easier without environmental side effects.

Simbol Mining uses a licensed technology of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California, that filters the silicates contained in the mineral salt water. In future developments the company will use nanofilters (such as those used in the water treatment process) to extract minerals or valuable metals from the saline water.

The filtered water will be passed through a chemical resin which will capture the positive Li ions from the saline solution (LiCl). This solution can then be mixed with sodium carbonate to form lithium carbonate. The whole process is facilitated by the absorbent water steam produced by the geothermal water used at the power plant.

The test process was so successful that Simbol Mining will build its 1-ton Li prototype plant within a year.

This type of technology will have a relatively little environmental effect, says Michael McKibben, geologist at the University of California at Riverside (one of the ten global campuses of the public University of California).

Luka Erceg, manager of Simbol Mining, declares that the method is suitable also for other metals, such as Zn or Mn.

Simbol Mining is specialized in waste management and Li, Zn and other metals recovery from geothermal sources.

The products are intended to satisfy the needs of the next generation of electric vehicles using biochemical Li-Ion and other energy storage applications.