Effective lithium extraction and purification

Extracting lithium poses many challenges however OLI Systems' team of experts provides multiple levels of consulting to design effective lithium extraction processes from brines or hard rock sources. Understanding the chemical behavior behind each process step enables efficient and sustainable production and enables engineers to maximize yields and increase purity levels. By accurately predicting mass balance, minimizing water and chemical requirements and addressing regulatory questions using first-principles thermodynamics, our services help operators gain increased efficiency, achieve regulatory compliance and lower costs.

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Optimize process design and operations for lithium extraction and refining

Extracting lithium from saline lakes, direct lithium extraction and hard rock pose unique challenges to operations efficiency and sustainability from a design and operations standpoint. These challenges can be overcome by developing optimized process designs at the front end of the project followed by proactive troubleshooting and monitoring to ensure seamless operations. OLI Systems’ consulting team is available to help operators to achieve optimal outcomes in water and chemical treatment, product purity and lithium recovery.

Salar brine evaporation

A complex process that requires expert design to maximize product recovery while minimizing chemical addition. OLI consultants provide comprehensive support to clients, from evaluating salt precipitation during evaporation to identifying the formation of key elements like Li, K, and B. We design evaporation operations in steady-state and dynamic mode, based on specific needs. The end result is a process design that takes into account seasonal effects and changes in inflow compositions, ensuring maximum product recovery with minimal chemical intervention.

Direct lithium extraction (DLE)

OLI consultants have the expertise to design an efficient plant extraction process. This includes creating a custom database of material absorption capacity, absorption rates, impurities fraction, and liquid entrainment. OLI consultants can also design the purification step, producing Li2CO3 and LiOH, while simulating LiCl electrolysis. Furthermore, OLI technology can predict the effects of impurities on LiOH purity.

Hard rock lithium extraction

OLI consulting offers a range of services for from b-spodumene through to the final LiCO3 product, designing processes that optimize chemical addition and reduce overall costs. OLI can also focus on designing better chemical recovery processes, minimizing energy and new chemical consumption. Our expertise in engineering chemistry enables us to develop novel ideas and optimize operating parameters like temperature, pH, and unit operation.

Lithium from clays

OLI can assist in designing an efficient and flexible separation process for extracting lithium from clays. By predicting the behavior of all elements in every part of the plant, OLI can optimize lithium yield and purity while maximizing impurities removal. Our software's expandable database also enables users to incorporate specialty supplier chemicals without the need for expensive bench/pilot-scale testing units, providing a cost-effective and time-saving approach for testing new process capabilities.


Importance of electrolyte science to optimize the design and operation of lithium salar brine mining processes.

Lithium extraction from salt basins involves the use of electrolytes and requires a rigorous model for accurate mass balance. Evaporation of the saline brines leads to the formation of double and even triple salts, making it difficult to estimate the composition accurately using basic water chemistry programs.

The process of extracting lithium from saline brines is complex and time-consuming, and it heavily depends on factors such as climate and weather conditions. The salinities of salar brines are high, and the solutions require several reactions and separation processes before purification.

Accurate simulation and modeling are crucial in maximizing production yields and reducing costs. By-products like potassium can be sold to increase profits, while the separation of impurities from lithium is the most expensive part of the brine refinement process.

The behavior of electrolytes is mathematically challenging, and changes in composition, hydrate formation, and phase transformation can lead to unpredictable and counterintuitive solution properties.

AJ Gerbino
VP of Consulting and Application Engineering

Lithium engineering chemistry services

OLI lithium consulting includes the following services:

OLI's team of experts can help identify the causes of reduced performance and mitigate process problems, provide alternative designs to increase yield and purity and simulate the mass/energy balance, chemical requirements.

OLI experts study the brine feed or process streams to identify optimal reagent requirements or causes of unwanted impurities.


Existing plant operations optimization

OLI experts recreate existing plant operations using simulation software, and identify root causes for lost yield, additive inefficiencies or other process problems

Improved performance

Deliver an analysis of the current operations, including locations where Li is lost, the chemical causes of reduced performance, and how these problems can be mitigated.

Reduced costs

Provide alternative designs that show where yield and purity can be increased or where changing additives can improve costs.

Working in partnership

OLI works alongside the EPC design staff to simulate initial and revised design ideas. We will create the general layout of the plant and simulate the mass/energy balance, chemical requirements, and overall product yield/purity.


OLI Systems collaborates closely with FEED staff to assess the impact of design changes and environmental variables on plant performance. In addition, we analyze the effect of varying lithium feedstock on product output and plant efficiency. OLI also evaluates the impact of different chemicals on plant performance and provides design or operational alternatives that make these changes viable.

Our expertise in electrolyte thermodynamics and engineering chemistry allows us to provide a comprehensive analysis of these factors and offer practical solutions to optimize the lithium extraction process.

What our clients say...

OLI Systems has been the leader in electrolyte thermodynamics for over 50 years. Working across industries and bring both a broad understanding of engineering chemistry processes and a deep understanding of electrolyte thermodynamics. As consultants, we have mastered the methodology and expertise to understand and address water-based operations.

"OLI's Consulting Services helped us achieve efficient plant design and regulatory approval. Their accurate mass balance based on our goals reduced costs and increased operational efficiency. Their consultants assisted with process changes and provided software licenses and training to improve the process throughout the project life cycle"

  • Accurately predicting mass balance plantwide

  • Predicting the chemical reactions and retention of DLE absorbents

  • Predicting when solids will form and how to enhance or prevent them (depending on goal)

  • Minimizing water and chemical requirements to plant

  • Calculating product purity based on a complete brine composition assessment

  • Addressing regulatory questions and requirements using first-principles thermodynamic software

  • Simulating specialized units like RO, ion exchange, and electrolysis