By 2030, half of the BMW Group’s sales will come from electric cars. The company strives to ensure that the entire battery technology chain is environmentally responsible. The group independently purchases lithium and cobalt from mines and transfers it to suppliers of lithium-ion cells. “Solar” aluminum – from the same category. A new project has been started in the same vein of responsibility. BMW i Ventures has invested in an American startup Lilac Solutions, which has developed and patented a technology for extracting lithium from brines even with a low content of this substance (which expands the resource base).
The new process reduces the required area in the field by a factor of a thousand (excluding evaporation ponds that are harmful to nature) and at the same time increases the percentage of lithium recovery from the usual 40% to 80%.
Equipment for a new process can be mounted in a container and quickly delivered to the desired location.
Lilac has created ion exchange beads that are loaded into a container. Brine is pumped through it from the ground and the granules pull out lithium. Further, the granules are treated with hydrochloric acid, and the output is lithium chloride – a common form of storage of this raw material (Lilac figuratively calls it “crude lithium oil”). It can be easily converted into lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide, which are already being supplied to battery manufacturers. This technology for extracting lithium from brines has less impact on the environment than the traditional one, in addition, it is more efficient and cost-effective. Lilac has already verified the design in the first field trials. Now the partners intend to show that the technology can be scaled to industrial level in the medium term.
Do you think a useful development is sponsored by BMW?