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Technology for the Recovery of Lithium from Geothermal Brines †

Energy Geosciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 1 Cyclotron Road, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
This paper is an extended version of our paper published in the Proceedings of the 46th Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA, 15–17 February 2021.
Academic Editor: Krzysztof Galos
Energies 2021, 14(20), 6805;
Received: 1 September 2021 / Revised: 8 October 2021 / Accepted: 12 October 2021 / Published: 18 October 2021
Lithium is the principal component of high-energy-density batteries and is a critical material necessary for the economy and security of the United States. Brines from geothermal power production have been identified as a potential domestic source of lithium; however, lithium-rich geothermal brines are characterized by complex chemistry, high salinity, and high temperatures, which pose unique challenges for economic lithium extraction. The purpose of this paper is to examine and analyze direct lithium extraction technology in the context of developing sustainable lithium production from geothermal brines. In this paper, we are focused on the challenges of applying direct lithium extraction technology to geothermal brines; however, applications to other brines (such as coproduced brines from oil wells) are considered. The most technologically advanced approach for direct lithium extraction from geothermal brines is adsorption of lithium using inorganic sorbents. Other separation processes include extraction using solvents, sorption on organic resin and polymer materials, chemical precipitation, and membrane-dependent processes. The Salton Sea geothermal field in California has been identified as the most significant lithium brine resource in the US and past and present efforts to extract lithium and other minerals from Salton Sea brines were evaluated. Extraction of lithium with inorganic molecular sieve ion-exchange sorbents appears to offer the most immediate pathway for the development of economic lithium extraction and recovery from Salton Sea brines. Other promising technologies are still in early development, but may one day offer a second generation of methods for direct, selective lithium extraction. Initial studies have demonstrated that lithium extraction and recovery from geothermal brines are technically feasible, but challenges still remain in developing an economically and environmentally sustainable process at scale. View Full-Text
Keywords: lithium; geothermal brines; critical materials; extraction technologies lithium; geothermal brines; critical materials; extraction technologies
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MDPI and ACS Style

Stringfellow, W.T.; Dobson, P.F. Technology for the Recovery of Lithium from Geothermal Brines. Energies 2021, 14, 6805.

AMA Style

Stringfellow WT, Dobson PF. Technology for the Recovery of Lithium from Geothermal Brines. Energies. 2021; 14(20):6805.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Stringfellow, William T., and Patrick F. Dobson. 2021. "Technology for the Recovery of Lithium from Geothermal Brines" Energies 14, no. 20: 6805.

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