Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Finalists

5 teams are advancing to Phase 3, each taking home $280,000 in cash prizes, along with a chance to win part of the $2 million Phase 3 prize pool.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Redox Membrane for LiOH Extraction

SelectPureLi propose to use DirectPlateTM LiCoO2 (LCO) as a redox membrane to extract LiOH directly from geothermal brine. LCO is a classic lithium-ion battery cathode material that can be deposited on various material and form a dense film that is non-permeable to liquids. The team proposes that the use of a fully dense film might be more capable of blocking other non-lithium impurities present in brines (Na, K, Mg, Fe and silica, etc.) from passing through compared to other membranes. As a result, the LCO can work more effectively and can highly select lithium easier without additional impurities present.

Rice University

Highly Selective Electrodialysis for Li Extraction

This innovation consists of a two-step process that includes both membrane filtration and electrodialysis technologies. First, the proposed hybrid membrane consists of a CEM with a nanofiltration membrane attached, testing both a thin polyamide nanofiltration layer as well as a functionalized covalent organic framework layer. The micro-template is used to induce polymerization of silica to prevent fowling of the electrodialysis components and a selective hybrid membrane (SHM) to reject divalent cations by size exclusion separates calcium and magnesium ions from the brine. Second, a novel competing monovalent ion countering process using a reversed concentration gradient in the electrodialysis process reduces sodium and potassium ion transport across the membrane, resulting in a highly selective lithium extraction process. Lithium carbonate is produced with no pretreatment chemical addition, low water consumption, and high energy efficiency.

University of Virginia

Targeted Extraction of Lithium with Electroactive Particles for Recovery Technology (TELEPORT)

Team TELEPORT seeks to capture lithium using a selective solid intercalation material, and electrodialysis and downstream separation. The team hopes this combination of technology will be able to selectively extract lithium from geothermal brine, as well as minimize the water foot print and leverage existing solution chemistry to minimize the need for additional chemicals used in current technologies. By phase 3, the team hopes to create a process for separation and purification that are scalable and space efficient.

University of Utah

Engineered Lithium Ion-Sieve Technology

To overcome many of the challenges associated current Direct Lithium Extraction process from geothermal brines, University of Utah plans to develop a robust and economical approach utilizing Engineered Lithium-Ion Sieve Technology (E-LIST). The team hopes to prove their technology can demonstrate high separation factors by using a novel adsorption of lithium method that is endothermic (entropically driven), and thus increasing its selectivity with fluid temperature. These adsorbent materials can be synthesized from waste materials which could reduce the sorbent material manufacturing cost and improving the overall techno-economics of the process.

George Washington University

Direct LiOH Production from Geothermal Brines

An electrochemical process workflow proposed to extract lithium from geothermal brine includes the following electrochemical processes: 1) electrochemical silica removal; 2) application of a lithium selective intercalation electrode plate layered with a monovalent-selective cation exchange membrane (MS-CEM) to separate lithium ions from solution; 3) release of the captured lithium and captured chloride into a recycled water solution; and 4) additional electrochemical filtration through anion exchange and bipolar membranes. The products produced include a lithium hydroxide solution, hydrochloric acid, and desalinated water for reuse in the electrochemical process. The lithium hydroxide solution will be concentrated through the application of vacuum evaporation.

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