Energy Recovery for the Lithium and Lithium-ion Industries
There is greater demand than ever for lithium and lithium-ion batteries. However, lithium mining and battery production can be extremely resource intensive. Lithium extraction often relies on evaporation, which can require vast amounts of energy, land, and time. Increasing regulations are now mandating lithium ore mines and battery production facilities to treat their wastewater, which is an energy intensive process.
Membrane technology, in conjunction with energy recovery devices (ERDs), can vastly reduce the electricity, steam, land, and other resources required to produce lithium ion batteries compared to traditional methods, reducing or replacing lengthy evaporation periods in lithium extraction. This technology can also more efficiently clean wastewater produced by lithium mining, refining, and battery production, addressing pain points along key areas of the supply chain.
Membrane filtration with ERDs offers the following advantages over traditional thermal and solar evaporation:
- Lower equipment CAPEX
- Lower energy consumption and OPEX
- Smaller footprint
- Lower cost to Li2CO3 or LiOH
- Significantly shorter production time
Unit cost ($/m3)
Our line of energy recovery devices can significantly compound these benefits at a wide range of pressures. Our core PX® Pressure Exchanger®, its ultra high-pressure counterpart the Ultra PX™, and low pressure PXs work by harnessing pressure as the brine leaves the system and recirculating the energy, maximizing system efficiency. Systems using the PX and Ultra PX are able to reduce energy consumption by as much as 60%, and significantly reduce the size of other system components.
Energy Recovery’s line of solutions can dramatically reduce the energy costs, consumption, and emissions of membrane-based systems, delivering significant OPEX savings as well as CAPEX savings by minimizing the need for other system components. Our devices cover a wide range of pressures and flow rates to accommodate any size plant.
The PX is the market leader in energy saving devices for the seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination industry, with over 30,000 PX devices installed in over 100 countries over the last 30 years. Our customers in SWRO save approximately $3.9 billion in energy costs each year, and the PX can offer the same energy saving benefits and reliability to the lithium industry.
For most salt lakes and brines, the standard process of extracting lithium is through evaporation, a process that is time consuming and requires large amounts of land. Membrane technology can replace most of the evaporation cycles, turning a process that takes 12-24 months into one that can reduce the time by 2 – 50 times, with a much smaller footprint. Energy Recovery’s line of solutions can dramatically reduce the energy costs, consumption, and emissions of membrane-based systems, delivering significant OPEX savings as well as CAPEX savings by minimizing the need for other system components.
Lithium Ore Mining and Battery Production
As environmental regulations grow more stringent and enforcement increases, it is essential to properly treat wastewater created by mining and production. Another driver is that many waste streams contain valuable ions that can be reused or resold. Energy Recovery’s line of PXs and other ERDs can significantly reduce the energy costs and emissions associated with meeting wastewater treatment regulations. At many cathode manufacturing facilities, RO systems with PX technology are used to cost effectively turn cathode manufacturing waste streams into solid fertilizers (e.g., ammonium sulfate or ammonium phosphate) or other valuable commodities (e.g., sodium sulfate) depending on cathode chemistry which are then sold to help offset the cost of the treatment system. An efficient wastewater treatment system can also provide major value to plant operators by providing an independent source of freshwater, allowing for water reuse.