Lithium demand is expected to increase several-fold in this decade, and effective sourcing of lithium from existing and new deposits is the challenge moving forward. The key sources of lithium include saline lakes (salars), lithium-bearing minerals, and to a lesser degree, lithium-bearing clays, recycled batteries, oilfield produced water, hydrothermal deposits, and seawater. Extracting lithium from each source employs a different chemical process. Understanding the chemical mechanisms of each process enables efficient and sustainable production, helping to maximize yields while lowering operations costs and maintaining environmental compliance.
In a multi-part webinar Dr. AJ Gerbino will present a modern electrolyte model that simulates the extraction and purification of lithium from these sources. The first webinar will focus on the chemical properties of several salar brines as it is evaporated. This discussion will include the precipitation of salts at different stages of evaporation, the effect of air humidity on evaporation extent, and the feasibility of harvesting KCl and B(OH)₃ as salable product. Finally, he will share simulation results of changing the type and amount of chemical addition (e.g., CaCl₂, CaO, Na₂CO₃, oxalic acid, etc.) on the overall evaporation extent and on the salts that form.
The purpose of this and follow-up webinars is to allow engineers to maximize lithium product yield and to evaluate the possibility of producing secondary products like boron and KCl.
June 4, 2020