Orocobre Limited and Energy Exploration Technologies Inc. (EnergyX) have entered into a Letter of Intent (LOI) on working together on implementation of direct lithium extraction (DLE) technologies in promoting sustainable development and innovation in the lithium mining sector.
Rising demand across the world for electric vehicles and a more efficient energy system has corresponded to a projected exponential increase in demand for lithium. This trend has provided opportunities for companies such as EnergyX to introduce DLE technologies to make lithium extraction more efficient, sustainable, and economic.
Orocobre is an Australian-based mineral resource company specialized in lithium and borax extraction. It is a world leading global lithium carbonate supplier and an established producer of boron. Operations are located across Argentina’s Lithium Triangle, where the company has set up the first large-scale, de novo brine-based lithium project in more than twenty years.
In 2018, Orocobre added 25,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of lithium carbonate production capacity, taking full production and capacity to 42,500 tpa of lithium carbonate for sale to industrial, technical and battery markets, positioning Orocobre as one of the world’s largest and lowest cost lithium chemicals producers.
EnergyX is a US-based technology company focused on innovations in the field of lithium extraction and solid-state battery energy storage systems.
Lithium Ion Transport and Separation (LiTAS) is EnergyX’s proprietary technology that stems from metal organic frameworks (MOFs) nanoparticles capable of selectively separating monovalent ions, such as lithium, from the rest of the ions in mixtures of high salinity solutions while maintaining stability in a myriad of conditions.
LiTAS mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) comprise mixtures of polymer and MOF to retain the attractive selectivity of the MOF, and the scalable and robust mechanical properties of polymers. EnergyX has designed and patented a proprietary scalable casting method to combine MOF nanoparticles with polymers to create the mixed matrix membranes in a thin film format.
The continuous process has a lithium recovery rate of ~90%, and can operate in conditions of 20-40% salinity.