Emerging technologies such as DLE (Direct Lithium Extraction) have opened opportunities for lithium brine extraction from deeper subsurface reservoirs, which can utilize existing oil and gas wells, geothermal developments, or other subsurface brine sources in a more economic and environmentally sustainable way. These new extraction technologies have opened the production of lithium to many more countries than are producing today, enabling a more global supply chain, enhancing the transition to a circular economy, and securing greater supply of lithium for battery production. Recent advancements in DLE technology have facilitated the upgrading and processing capabilities from raw lithium to lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) and lithium hydroxide (LiOH), which are the base elements required for input to high quality battery manufacturing and form the industry standards for pricing and trading.
Lithium does not occur freely as it is a highly reactive element. In order to extract it from oilfield brines, companies must use extraction technology to selectively adsorb lithium particles in order to accumulate economic quantities.
There are 3 main families when it comes to DLE technologies:
- Solvent Extraction