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Precious Lithium Squeezed Out of Geothermal Waste Water

Posted By Ariel Schwartz On December 11, 2009 @ 12:30 pm In Environment,Renewable Energy | 3 Comments

sustainable design, green design, geothermal technology, lithium, simbol mining, renewable energy, waste reduction, saltonsea

We need electric vehicles [1] to curb our thirst for oil, but there’s a problem: EV’s generally use lots of lithium [2] in their batteries, and that’s another limited resource. Now Simbol Mining [3] thinks it has a partial solution in a new technique that extracts battery lithium from the wastewater of geothermal plants.

sustainable design, green design, geothermal technology, lithium, simbol mining, waste reduction, renewable energy, Geothermal power

Currently, most lithium is sourced from soil or dried brine in a water-intensive process. But Simbol’s technique uses water that is already being extracted for geothermal energy [4]. The technique, which Simbol hopes to use in the geothermal and lithium-rich waters in California’s underground Salton Sea [5], pulls lithium ions out of the water and into a lithium chloride compound that can be mixed with sodium carbonate for shipping. Heat from the water helps power the process.

Simbol is in the midst of building a pilot plant that can produce a ton of lithium metal each month. If all goes well, the company will scale up. And within ten years, Simbol hopes [6] that it will produce a quarter of the world’s demand for lithium-carbonate — not bad for some dirty geothermal waste water.

+ Simbol Mining [3]

Via New Scientist [7]

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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/precious-lithium-squeezed-out-of-geothermal-waste-water/

URLs in this post:

[1] electric vehicles: http://www.inhabitat.com/tag/electric-vehicle/

[2] lithium: http://blogs.wsj.com/environmentalcapital/2009/02/03/peak-lithium-will-supply-fears-drive-alternative-batteries/

[3] Simbol Mining: http://www.simbolmining.com/

[4] geothermal energy: http://www.inhabitat.com/tag/geothermal/

[5] Salton Sea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salton_Sea

[6] hopes: http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10011923-54.html

[7] New Scientist: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20427385.700-battery-lithium-could-come-from-geothermal-waste-water.html

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