The Elements of Innovation Discovered

Mobile, modular direct lithium extraction

Metal Tech News - May 15, 2024

International Battery Metals and US Magnesium agree to install world's first modular DLE plant.

This May, International Battery Metals (IBAT) and US Magnesium announced their partnership to install a first-of-its-kind modular direct lithium extraction (DLE) plant that can rapidly be deployed to a site and efficiently extract lithium from a variety of brine resources. The portable, modular design provides both a smaller footprint and scalability.

The mobile facility is currently located at US Magnesium's existing operations outside Salt Lake City, Utah, to process brine produced from lithium-containing waste-magnesium salts. The resulting lithium chloride product will provide feedstock for high-purity lithium carbonate production by the North American company.

The patented modular plant was fabricated in Lake Charles, Louisiana, before being transported. IBAT has taken care of the equipment setup and other installation activities at the US Magnesium site.

Initial testing of critical equipment is underway, with full commissioning and startup to be completed within the next three months and commercial lithium production to follow shortly thereafter.

"Our commercial operations with US Mag will advance a productive lithium extraction operation," said International Battery Metals CEO Garry Flowers. "Given current lithium demand, supply dependence on China, and permitting challenges, our expected commercial operations are coming at an ideal time to produce lithium at scale in the U.S."

The technology can operate within a three-acre footprint, significantly smaller than other types of lithium production facilities. This compact design optimizes plant construction and operating costs.

Small but mighty

ibatterymetals.com

Another view of the IBAT plant in action.

The IBAT DLE plant design capacity is capable of producing up to 5,000 metric tons/year initially, depending on the resource composition. The modules can also be built out to meet demand with larger capacity as required.

Enough of these DLE operation partnerships producing at commercial scale will position IBAT as a domestic supplier for U.S. lithium, producing faster delivery of lithium chloride while maintaining a minimal footprint and environmental impact.

The DLE technology has also proven its effective extraction of more than 97% of available lithium from brine, with independent lab and field tests demonstrating the self-contained facility's proprietary selective absorbent maximizes lithium uptake and minimizes impurities.

Other than the use of acid and base for pH control, IBAT's lithium extraction process does not introduce chemicals into the brine and can extract lithium from subterranean brine sources and return the lithium-depleted brine to the same subsurface aquifer in a closed recycling loop.

Additionally, with an advanced water recovery rate, the technology protects sensitive water resources.

Internationally verified

IBAT's plant technology has been validated by two independent reviews through SLR International and Greg Mehos & Associates, proving great promise with oilfield brines through a large-volume test by Galvanic Energy in Arkansas, and with several subterranean brine resources in Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada, California, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas in the U.S., Salars in Chile and Argentina, and additional testing at geothermal brines in Germany.

"International Battery Metals' patented Modular Extraction Technology will be the basis of future lithium extraction from brine resources around the world. It is the fastest technology to deploy and commence commercial operations," said John Burba, founder, CTO and director of International Battery Metals. "Furthermore, its inherent efficiency and environmental protective characteristics make IBAT's technology superior to existing DLE operations. We are very excited about the placement of our first plant on a resource and the expected commencement of commercial operations."

On the horizon

The US Magnesium partnership provides IBAT with royalties based on lithium sales, as well as payments for equipment operations based on lithium prices and performance.

IBAT will continue to work with the resources provided by customers holding oilfield brines, brine aquifers, and other industrial brine by-products.

The company says the modular design of its DLE plant promises significant initial cost savings to customers, and the proprietary DLE technology lowers operating costs by selectively extracting lithium from the brine while efficiently removing contaminants and improving, rather than contaminating, water sources.

IBAT's commercial operations will help fill the U.S. domestic lithium niche, serving the growing lithium demand from battery and electric vehicle OEMs as well as energy storage to support growing electricity demand and to balance the grid for increasing renewable energy integration.

 

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