Scientists develop ‘cheap and easy’ method to extract lithium from seawater

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

>***ABSTRACT*** > >Seawater contains significantly larger quantities of lithium than is found on land, thereby providing an almost unlimited resource of lithium for meeting the rapid growth in demand for lithium batteries. However, lithium extraction from seawater is exceptionally challenging because of its low concentration (∼0.1–0.2 ppm) and an abundance of interfering ions. Herein, we creatively employed a solid-state electrolyte membrane, and design a continuous electrically-driven membrane process, which successfully enriches lithium from seawater samples of the Red Sea by 43 000 times (i.e., from 0.21 to 9013.43 ppm) with a nominal Li/Mg selectivity >45 million. Lithium phosphate with a purity of 99.94% was precipitated directly from the enriched solution, thereby meeting the purity requirements for application in the lithium battery industry. Furthermore, a preliminary economic analysis shows that the process can be made profitable when coupled with the Chlor-alkali industry. Interesting. It’s also nice to see that the title vaguely resembles the results of the study. Nice change of pace.


What might the consequences of taking lots of lithium out of the ocean be? -edit- I’ve never made a comment that’s started such good discussions before – I’m enjoying reading the replies, thanks everyone


The scientists claim that the cell will require five dollars to extract a kg of lithium from seawater. My question is how much the cell membrane will require to produce.


This reminds me of the fact that once upon a time Aluminum was difficult to get, and hence very valuable. Henry Clay Frick, the industrialist, lined his entry way in Pittsburgh with Aluminum. Now, it conveniently holds our beer.


I wonder what the turn around time will be untill this can be done at a profitable scale?