Panasonic joins new Nevada lithium project
Joins Schlumberger to validate direct lithium extraction pilot Metal Tech News - June 10, 2021
Last updated 6/22/2021 at 4:07pm
On a mission to develop innovative solutions to sustainably produce the enormous quantities of lithium needed for the batteries powering electric vehicles, Schlumberger New Energy is teaming up with Panasonic Energy of North America to validate and optimize the differentiated direct lithium extraction technology to be used at its NeoLith Energy pilot plant in Nevada.
"Panasonic is a pioneer in electric vehicle battery technology, and we are excited to collaborate with them in developing our differentiated direct lithium extraction and production process," said Schlumberger New Energy Executive Vice President Ashok Belani. "We are committed to expanding the global supply chain for advanced lithium compounds to support the forecasted surge in demand and enable new opportunities for lithium production globally."
Schlumberger is best known for delivering technological solutions to the oil and gas sector, something it has been doing for more than a century. Adjusting to the global shift to low-carbon energy and transportation, the company formed a division focused on low-carbon and carbon-neutral energy technologies.
The lithium brine business, which involves drilling wells to extract the brine, is a perfect fit for leveraging Schlumberger's century of experience in oil and gas drilling and reservoir management.
One of Schlumberger New Energy's first projects in the United States is the development of NeoLith Energy's differentiated direct lithium extraction to produce high-purity, battery-grade lithium.
The plan for this facility is to pump brine from the subsurface, extract greater than 90% of the dissolved lithium, and pump more than 85% of the brine back to the subsurface in an environmentally safe manner.
This cutting-edge technology is expected to result in a sustainable process for producing high-purity, battery-grade lithium material at a much faster rate than the months of waiting for the sun to evaporate the water off a lithium-rich brine.
With a much smaller groundwater and physical footprint than lithium brine extraction, this process has the potential to be a game-changer that creates new market opportunities for the lithium extraction and battery manufacturing sectors and maximizes the value of the lithium-rich resource base in Nevada.
The Neolith Energy lithium pilot plant also happens to be only 200 miles from the Tesla Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, a massive lithium-ion battery facility owned and operated in partnership with Panasonic Energy of North America.
As a global technology company and leader in lithium-ion batteries, Panasonic has a proven track record in innovation and advanced products and solutions that power the automotive industry.
"Panasonic has a longstanding commitment to contributing to society and increasing sustainability in the supply chain as we work to produce the world's safest, highest quality and most affordable batteries is a critical priority," said Panasonic Energy of North America Allan Swan. "We look forward to working with Schlumberger New Energy to help achieve our vision of advancing the lithium-ion battery space and accelerating to a clean energy society."
This acceleration to clean energy is expected to drive exponential growth in the demand for battery-grade lithium over the next decade.
While the lithium industry is expected to attract large investments on this soaring demand, it will be hard-pressed to keep pace with the forecasted 400% growth of EV sales over this span, coupled with the growing installations of lithium-ion batteries to store intermittent solar and wind energy.
Schlumberger New Energy believes the NeoLith Energy plant and the direct lithium extraction technology it employs could help lithium producers keep pace with battery makers like Panasonic.