26 Jul 2023

Geothermal brine sources to build advanced lithium batteries

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has announced nearly $11 million in grants for 10 projects (in nine states) that will advance innovative technologies to extract and convert battery-grade lithium from geothermal brine sources. “The direct extraction of lithium from geothermal brines represents an opportunity to produce lithium hydroxide in the country, the form of lithium used for advanced batteries, in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner,” they say from this organization.

Currently, the United States has limited capacities to produce and refine lithium of national origin, so this initiative would bring them closer to the objectives set by the Biden-Harris Administration of 50% adoption of electric vehicles by the year 2030 and an economy of net zero emissions by 2050.

The 10 selected projects fall into these two thematic areas:

  • Field validation of lithium hydroxide production from geothermal brines: Demonstration or pilot projects to validate cost-effective and innovative lithium extraction and lithium hydroxide conversion technologies.
  • Applied Research and Development for Direct Extraction of Lithium from Geothermal Brines: Research and development projects to advance emerging lithium direct extraction process technologies to increase efficiencies, reduce waste generation, and/or reduce costs.

The goals of these projects align with the DOE’s Critical Materials and Minerals Program, the Energy Storage Grand Challenge Roadmap, the Federal Consortium on Advanced Batteries’ National Plan for Lithium Batteries, and the American Initiative for Materials for Batteries.