Wednesday, November 30, 2016

USA, California: Project to Recover Lithium from Geothermal Fluids at Salton Sea

EERE Success Story—Geothermal Technology to Help Meet High Lithium Demand (EERE/GTO)

Geothermal Energy the savior of Salton Sea, by Alexander Schriener Jr.
Units 1 and 2 at Salton Sea geothermal field, Imperial Valley CA. View from Obsidian Butte looking south across the declining Lake.
The California Energy Commission (CEC) recently selected SRI International for extended research funding via the Energy Department’s Funding Opportunity Announcement: “Improving the Cost-Effectiveness and Operational Flexibility of Geothermal Energy Production.”

Over the next two years SRI will continue geothermal mineral recovery research – initiated two years ago via the Energy Department’s Geothermal Technologies Office – focusing on advances in lithium recovery from geothermal brines using ion-imprinted polymers. Lithium is among a class of elements that plays a vital role in many clean energy technologies, including solar, wind, electric vehicles and energy-efficient lighting.

SRI’s original efforts centered on extracting lithium and manganese from potential geothermal sources.  Going forward, their research efforts will focus on lithium recovery from the geothermal fluids extracted in California’s Salton Sea region. Under the DOE award, tests showed that lithium separation via ion-imprinted polymers is highly effective – in one process, more than 90% of retrievable lithium was separated from a test brine.

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