Thursday, June 9, 2016

USA, California: A New Hope for Lithium from Geothermal Brine Scheme at Salton Sea

Tesla offered $325 million for Salton Sea startup (The Desert Sun)

The letter from Elon Musk left no doubt about his intentions: He wanted Simbol Materials, and he was willing to pay handsomely for it.

Simbol claimed it had developed extraordinary technology for extracting lithium — a key ingredient in the batteries that power Tesla's electric cars — from the mineral-rich brine by the southern shore of the Salton Sea, southeast of Palm Springs, California. Tesla's rock-star co-founder and chief executive was on the hunt for lithium, and Simbol planned to produce huge quantities of the valuable metal. [Simbol Materials' demonstration plant was located next to Energy­Source's 49 MW John L. Featherstone geothermal plant near the Salton Sea.]

Musk's preliminary offer for the startup: $325 million, paid in Tesla stock. For reasons that are still unclear, the deal with Tesla fell apart. For all intents and purposes, Simbol is dead.

A new company, Alger Alternative Energy, has risen from the startup's ashes. Founded by Simbol's former vice president of businesses development, Tracy Sizemore, the firm expects to finalize a purchase of Simbol's assets and technology through a court proceeding this week.

Experts say the Salton Sea's mineral-rich brine is one of the world's best lithium resources. But so far, no company has successfully converted geothermal brine to lithium on a large scale, at the Salton Sea or elsewhere.

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