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Using reaction kinetics to simulate direct lithium extraction in plant designs

Lithium is extracted from brines using specially produced metal oxides. This extraction process is known as Direct Lithium Extraction, or DLE.  There are now many custom manufacturers of this material. They are working to improve uptake rates, filterability, effective pH and temperature range, and durability.  The performance variation among these media creates some challenge when designing an extraction plant, especially when the person is comparing different media materials.

OLI is addressing this challenge by developing kinetic models that incorporate key extraction properties like uptake rates and effects of temperature, pH, and brine-to-media loading ratios.  We use three key functions in OLI Flowsheet to complete this work: the kinetic module; the Optimizer; and the Sensitivity tool.  We also include the competitive adsorption of impurities like Na, K, Mg, and Ca in the reaction kinetics.

The DLE kinetic parameters are then used in a standard extraction process to simulate and optimize lithium yield, lithium purity and chemical demand.

AJ Gerbino

VP of Consulting and Application Engineering