Schlumberger New Energy and Panasonic Energy of North America partner on new battery-grade DLE lithium production process
Schlumberger New Energy and Panasonic Energy of North America, a division of Panasonic Corporation of North America, have entered into a collaboration agreement for the validation and optimization of the innovative and sustainable lithium extraction and production process to be used by Schlumberger New Energy at its Neolith Energy pilot plant in Nevada. (Earlier post.)
This collaboration paves the way for improved lithium production solutions that will help meet the expected surge in demand for lithium as the electric vehicle (EV) market takes off worldwide.
Neolith Energy uses a differentiated direct lithium extraction (DLE) process to produce high-purity, battery-grade lithium material while reducing the production time from more than a year to weeks. This process is in sharp contrast to conventional evaporative methods of extracting lithium, with a significantly reduced groundwater and physical footprint.
Neolith Energy’s objective will be to pump brine from the subsurface, extract more than 90% of the dissolved lithium, and pump more than 85% of the brine back to the subsurface in an environmentally safe manner. In addition to maximizing the reinjection of the brine, the ultimate goal is to eliminate the need for any fresh water from an external source and reduce the environmental impact.
Panasonic will provide guidance to validate and optimize the lithium material for battery-grade consumption. Situated in Clayton Valley, Nevada, the pilot plant is just 200 miles from Panasonic’s large-scale advanced battery manufacturing operation, Panasonic Energy of North America, in Sparks, Nevada.
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. Demand for battery-grade lithium is projected to grow exponentially over the next decade. As EVs greatly depend on lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, sustainable and efficient lithium production has become an important topic for regions, industries and technology companies, as well as battery and large automotive manufacturers. While the lithium industry is expected to attract large investments, the time-to-first-lithium-production for new development projects and regions will be critical for the industry to meet the surge in demand.