SEP and Eureka produce lithium carbonate from wastewater

02 August 2023 12:51

Winterthur CCZurich CCGreater ZurichSwiss AMCHAM SoCal

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Winterthur/Williamsport - The Winterthur-based company SEP Salt & Evaporation Plants and Eureka Resources of Pennsylvania have successfully partnered to extract 97 per cent pure lithium carbonate from oil and natural gas brines. This will make North America less reliant on lithium imports.

SEP Salt & Evaporation Plants, which is based in Winterthur, and Eureka Resources from the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, have developed a domestic lithium source for the North American market, primarily for the battery industry. Together, they have succeeded in recovering 97 per cent pure lithium carbonate from oil and natural gas brines produced during industrial production processes, according to a statement from Eureka. The recovery rate was up to 90 per cent.

This domestic lithium source reduces reliance on imports from China and South America while addressing environmental concerns, writes the statement. The patented closed-loop process involves a combination of physical and chemical treatment, concentration and crystallization using existing industrial equipment. It is an extension of an extraction process for sodium chloride, potassium chloride and clean water that has been in operation for ten years. The expansion will reportedly be operational within two years, making it the fastest to market for a new lithium source in the United States.

“Sending the first lithium carbonate crystals produced from Eureka’s concentrated brine filled us with great satisfaction,” commented Jens-Holger Schmidt, CEO of SEP. “It is a validation of SEP’s vast experience in the salt and lithium crystallization area and of its laboratory testing capabilities.”

The recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in the U.S. to promote climate-friendly technologies incentivizes electric-vehicle manufacturers to use domestic sources of lithium. This is leading to significant demand, according to Eureka. ce/mm

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