CMI sorbents and forward osmosis reduce environmental impacts

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LCA schematic of lithium recovery from geothermal brines using CMI innovations in sorbent and membrane technology.
LCA schematic of lithium recovery from geothermal brines using CMI innovations in sorbent and membrane technology.

CMI researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Purdue University conducted the research for this highlight

Achievement
Life cycle analysis (LCA) of LiOH and Li2CO3 production from geothermal brines shows up to 91% reduction in environmental impacts compared to mining or salar brine.

Significance and impact

  • LDH sorbents recover >91% of LiCl from geothermal brines.
  • Forward osmosis membrane technology concentrates 3% LiCl eluate to 20%.
  • Li2CO3 produced from geothermal brines has a carbon footprint that is 34% lower than production from salt flats and 26% lower than production from the mineral spodumene.
  • LiOH production from geothermal brines can achieve 48% reduction on greenhouse gas emissions.

Details and next steps
This work is coupled with technoeconomic analysis and extended to recovery of lithium from other sources.