A feasible plan for Zero Carbon Lithium
Metal Tech News – February 15, 2023
Last updated 2/15/2023 at 10:38am
Vulcan publishes feasibility study that checks off next milestone along path to 2025 production.
With five offtake agreements with some of Europe's largest carmakers, such as Stellantis, Volkswagen, and Renault Group, as well as Umicore and Korea's LG Electronics, Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd. has announced the results of its definitive feasibility study for phase one of the company's Zero Carbon Lithium project in Germany's Rhine River Valley.
Aiming to become the world's first integrated lithium chemicals and renewable energy producer with net zero greenhouse gas emissions, Vulcan has been advancing its lithium project for only a short while. Yet, due to the necessity of clean-sourced and clean-produced lithium, it has quickly made it to the official starting line to begin development.
"We are immensely proud of our Vulcan team and their significant contribution to complete our Phase One, Zero Carbon Lithium Project DFS," the company penned in the announcement. "Our Project consists of commercially well-understood methods from within our industry and processes with sound experience from others. More than 13,000 hours of data have been gathered and analysed from Vulcan's lithium extraction pilot plant (PP1) operation, using brine from our commercial geothermal wells in the core of our Phase One area since April '21."
A feasible plan
To produce the zero-carbon lithium promised by the project's name, Vulcan will draw lithium-enriched geothermal brine from reservoirs below the Upper Rhine River Valley and use the energy produced from the geothermal resource to extract the lithium and upgrade it to the hydroxide needed for lithium-ion batteries.
The lithium-less brine will then be injected back into the reservoir, and excess zero-carbon electricity will be fed into the energy grid.
A double-faceted benefit to renewable energy goals, from the production side for its lithium hydroxide monohydrate – used in the manufacture of cathode material for lithium-ion EV batteries – Zero Carbon Lithium is expected to produce roughly 24,000 metric tons of battery-grade lithium hydroxide annually, a 60% increase from its preliminary feasibility study's 15,000 metric ton estimate.
This is enough lithium to supply approximately 500,000 electric vehicles a year.
However, not ending things there, as a byproduct of its lithium harvest, it will use the geothermal heat to produce nearly 300-gigawatt-hours of renewable electricity and 250-gigawatt-hours of heat for homes and businesses.
With the DFS out of the way, and the offtakes in place to guarantee sales right out of the gate, it's now only a matter of making the deadline.
"Now we are really getting started as we target start of operations by the end-2025 and ramp up after that," the company wrote. "This is a tight timeframe, and we recognise the significant challenge ahead of us as a growing company."
With the Upper Rhine valley in Germany's southwest holding what is believed to be one of the largest lithium reserves in Europe, the Australian lithium miner has positioned themselves to be a keystone in European EV supply chain for decades to come.
According to the most recent resource calculation, Zero Carbon Lithium hosts 10.09 million metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent in the measured and indicated categories and 16.48 million metric tons of LCE in the inferred resource category.
This is the largest lithium resource currently identified in the European Union, according to Vulcan.
Now the company is ready to move forward with its plans to tap the lithium and geothermal potential of this incredible resource to produce net-zero carbon lithium, electricity, and heat in Germany's Upper Rhine Valley.
"We have an exciting time ahead of us, with the start-up of demonstration plants to train our operations team, the start of development drilling for new production wells, and of course, project financing," Vulcan penned in the release. "It is shaping up to be a very exciting year for Vulcan, and the Zero Carbon Lithium Project, and we look forward to continuing to share the journey with you."
CORRECTION: This article was updated on Feb. 15, 2023 to accurately reflect the measured and indicated resources at 10.09 million metric tons LCE and the inferred resource at 16.48 million metric tons LCE.