Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR) reports that its engineering team has improved several process stages, including optimization of the brine preparation stage, to achieve highly efficient recovery of lithium, in real-time, from the company’s live Salton Sea geothermal brine resource. (Earlier post.)
CTR took an integrated design approach to optimize the recovery of lithium, and I’m pleased to report our team has delivered impressive results ahead of schedule. The plant will continue to run for a few more months. We intend to repurpose the facility to optimize recovery of other critical minerals, including manganese, in parallel with our Stage 1 construction program.
Our motto is to measure twice, cut once, and in most cases, we are measuring three times. Designing an efficient, modular engineering framework means we can replicate these modular facilities at each project stage to scale up faster and more cost-effectively.—CTR CEO Rod Colwell
CTR began the project’s onsite optimization program in the fall of last year. The program incorporated controlled delivery of live brine to the front end of the overall lithium process for purposes of verifying control systems for the front end of the lithium extraction process, and to examine the temperature characteristics of the actual extraction itself.
Over the past several years, CTR evaluated numerous direct lithium extraction (DLE) technologies, including ion exchange, adsorption, and solvent extraction, amongst others. Analysis by CTR and its consultants found that adsorption technology has significant advantages over other techniques including ion exchange and solvent extraction for lithium recovery from Salton Sea geothermal brine, especially in the areas of operating temperature, filtration, and reagent usage, and therefore, better overall capital and operating cost.
CTR selected and is moving forward with the use of adsorption technology in the Stage 1 facility.
Top: Overview of CTR’s geothermal power/lithium extraction process. Bottom: Concept of envisioned CTR clean energy campus, including gigafactory. Source: CTR
Construction of Hell Kitchen Stage 1 is expected to commence this year, with the delivery of 49.9MW of clean electricity and 25,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide anticipated in 2024. CTR’s total resource has the capacity to produce 1,100MW of clean power and 300,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent products each year.