Direct Lithium Extraction

Cornish Lithium will be using Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology to selectively remove the lithium compounds from the geothermal waters. We believe this is the most environmentally-responsible method of extracting lithium from solution and should suit the Cornish context.

Lithium Extraction Techniques

Recent research highlights concern regarding the environmental and carbon footprint of current lithium extraction projects around the world. There is an increasing trend in the use of Life Cycle Assessments to help evaluate the impacts of producing lithium from different sources, from hard rock spodumene deposits (which have a high carbon footprint) to lithium from salar brines or geothermal waters. Such research suggests that utilising new DLE technologies to extract lithium from geothermal waters, and powering extraction plants with geothermal energy, may be the most environmentally-responsible way to produce this critical battery metal.

Recent advances in lithium extraction technology enable the economically-viable extraction of lithium directly from fluids, in the concentrations historically present in Cornwall’s hot springs. Various companies have developed their own proprietary extraction technologies; and we are in discussion with potential partners to work out which may be best suited to extract lithium from Cornish geothermal waters. These technologies are often based around selective membranes, or ion absorption, to allow the selective removal of only lithium compounds from the waters. Ultimately, Cornish Lithium aims to produce a battery quality lithium hydroxide product from the geothermal waters.

We are also evaluating the potential to utilise the heat energy contained within these geothermal waters: co-production of lithium with geothermal heat and power represents an exciting opportunity for low (or even net zero) carbon production of lithium.

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