Lake Resources is demonstrating the use of clean technology together with our technology partner, Lilac Solutions. This direct extraction process uses an adaptation of ion exchange technology, used widely since the 1940’s in water treatment, to reduce lithium processing costs and timelines significantly.
Conventional lithium extraction from brines involves salt-rich waters under salt lakes being pumped to the surface into large ponds, where solar evaporation reduces the liquid content. Typically, this process can take between nine months and two years and with lithium recoveries usually below 50%.
In contrast, the innovative solution developed by California-based Lilac Solutions offers a fast-track production process, with lithium brines produced in under three hours with very high purity and with minimal environmental impact.
Lab testing has shown that lithium concentrations of 30-60,000 mg/L lithium can be produced from brines of ~300 mg/L lithium in a few hours using the Lilac process.
Lilac’s unique ion exchange beads and column system together enable a simple and robust process yielding concentrated high-purity lithium solutions.
Testing undertaken in January 2020 confirmed very high purity lithium carbonate with 99.9% purity could be produced using Lilac’s technology. This exceeded industry standard specifications for battery-grade purity (more than 99.5%).
A significant outcome was that very low impurities were produced, with results of iron (Fe) and boron below 0.001 wt% (weight percentage). These results have been repeated at a pilot module scale in mid 2020 with conversion into final lithium carbonate currently underway.
Significantly, Lilac’s direct extraction process offers a sustainable solution for Lake Resources when extracting lithium from brine as processed brine is returned to the aquifer once the lithium has been extracted, removing the need for traditional evaporation ponds.
This addresses increasing interest from EV makers (OEM’s) and battery makers to demonstrate they have access to a sustainable scalable supply chain for raw materials.
Lake is now investigating the construction of an on-site pilot plant at Kachi, as a precursor to a full-scale commercial processing facility.
Lilac’s proprietary extraction process could put Lake ahead of rival projects in terms of consistent, battery quality lithium production, cost-competitiveness and recovery rate, giving Kachi a significant boost in terms of profitability and appeal, as well as minimising its environmental impact.