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Energy Storage

Albemarle hopes to pilot direct lithium extraction in the US

by Matt Blois
August 10, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 26


Albemarle is building a pilot plant at its facility in Magnolia, Arkansas, to test a technology that extracts lithium from subterranean brines. On an earnings call Aug. 3, CEO Kent Masters said the pilot plant will use a direct lithium extraction (DLE) process that adsorbs lithium to separate it from brine. Albemarle operates the only US commercial-scale lithium mining site, in Nevada, which uses conventional evaporation ponds to concentrate brines. Albemarle’s Arkansas facility already extracts bromine from brine. Other firms are pursuing similar technologies. For example, Standard Lithium has a DLE pilot plant in Arkansas and recently published a positive feasibility study for a commercial-​scale project. Albemarle has also announced a plan to run a DLE process at its lithium operations in Chile. While few DLE projects have reached commercial production, the advisory firm Cleantech Group predicted in a recent report that DLE technologies could prove an important tool to boost lithium production and meet rising demand from battery makers.


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