Peak Lithium ?

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Mark
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Peak Lithium ?

Post by Mark »

European Commission adds lithium to Critical Raw Materials list:
https://www.energy-storage.news/news/eu ... rials-list

Lithium has been added to a list of raw materials deemed essential to secure supply in Europe, for the first time ever, by the European Commission. Earlier this month the Commission presented its Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials and a “foresight study� on critical raw materials looking ahead to 2030 and 2050, as well as its updated 2020 list of materials. This list is updated every three years and identifies the raw materials that the Commission said are “most important economically and have a high supply risk�.

Continues....
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Post by kenneal - lagger »

Hopefully they are realising that the exponential growth in economic activity will soon lead to shortages of all raw materials and will act to curtail the cancer of growth.

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Post by adam2 »

I am not unduly concerned by lithium shortages.
It is not that rare, nor particularly expensive.
And it can be recycled.
A quadrupling of the lithium price does not imply a similar increase in the cost of lithium batteries since lithium is a small part of the total cost.

Fossil fuels once burnt are gone forever. Metals can be recycled, and often are.

Lithium could be extracted from seawater, and supplies in the sea are almost infinite.

I have received several offers to invest in "lithium prospects" that is not in a working mine but in a company that owns land that MIGHT contain SOME lithium.
Beware and keep wallet shut. Lithium mania might be the modern equivalent of the old tulip bulb mania.
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Post by kenneal - lagger »

adam2 wrote:...............Lithium could be extracted from seawater, and supplies in the sea are almost infinite. .................
Lithium and uranium could be extracted from sea water but can we afford the cost, both monetary and energywise, of doing so.
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Post by adam2 »

Extracting JUST lithium from sea water is most unlikely to be viable.
However evaporating sea water using solar thermal energy to produce drinking water is a possibility.
The concentrated brine resulting from this process could be treated to extract various valuable minerals.

With costs shared between fresh water production and production of useful metals, the process could become viable.
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BritDownUnder
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Post by BritDownUnder »

I agree with Adam that a multitude of metals could be extracted.

Looking at this article there are a lot of minerals and metals in sea water but they are dominated by common salt (sodium chloride).
... with a concentration of 18 980 parts per million (ppm) in seawater, sodium (10 561 ppm), magnesium (1 272 ppm), sulphur (884 ppm), calcium (400 ppm), potassium (380 ppm), bromine (65 ppm), inorganic carbon (28 ppm) and strontium (13 ppm). Then follow boron (4.6 ppm), silicon (4 ppm), organic carbon (3 ppm), aluminium (1.9 ppm), fluorine (1.4 ppm), nitrogen in the form of nitrate (0.7 ppm), organic nitrogen (0.2 ppm), rubidium (0.2 ppm), lithium (0.1 ppm), phosphorous in the form of phosphate (0.1 ppm), copper (0.09 ppm), barium (0.05 ppm), iodine (also 0.05 ppm), nitrogen in the form of nitrite (also 0.05 ppm) and nitrogen in the form of ammonia (once more 0.05 ppm). Thereafter, we have arsenic (0.024 ppm), iron (0.02 ppm), organic phosphorous (0.016 ppm), zinc (0.014 ppm), manganese (0.01 ppm), lead (0.005 ppm), selenium (0.004 ppm), tin (0.003 ppm), caesium (0.002 ppm), molybdenum (also 0.002 ppm) and uranium (0.0016 ppm).
It looks like sodium is about 100,000 times more prevalent in seawater, and potassium about 4000 times more than lithium - both alkali metals. So to get at the lithium you will probably need to remove all the sodium and potassium first to get at the lithium. Not too sure how this can be done cheaply. Maybe fractional crystallisation could get rid of most of the sodium chloride. Sodium chloride is used a lot in industry and potassium is a fertiliser. Surprisingly sodium metal, although highly reactive with water is a very good electrical conductor and was proposed for use in electrical cables in the 1960s in the US.

Later in this article it said that Japanese researchers had worked out a way of extracting the uranium from seawater by chemical means for a bit more than it costs to mine it.
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Post by vtsnowedin »

Why not start with the solar salt they use to deice roads with, which would have the 97.5% water already removed by evaporation?
But at 0.1ppm in seawater you would still need to process 250,000 pounds of salt to get just one pound of lithium and that assumes a 100% efficient extraction process.
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Post by kenneal - lagger »

vtsnowedin wrote:Why not start with the solar salt they use to deice roads with, ...........
We use predominantly mined rock salt to deice roads in the UK.
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Post by vtsnowedin »

kenneal - lagger wrote:
vtsnowedin wrote:Why not start with the solar salt they use to deice roads with, ...........
We use predominantly mined rock salt to deice roads in the UK.
Most of that mined salt was also once in the ocean so is probably just as rich in the trace elements.
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Post by adam2 »

Rock salt often has a different composition to sea salt, which also varies a lot.

Rock salt is believed to originate from inland seas that dried out in ancient times. This drying was very gradual, perhaps spread over thousands of years and possibly with a slight continuing inflow of water.
The different compounds in seawater percipitated out at different stages in this slow drying out.
Some thick deposits were almost pure common salt, and such deposits are mined today.

At other stages in this slow process of evaporation, the less common salts settled out of solution. Such deposits are believed to be the source of lithium salts that are extracted today.

Sea salt is produced in some places by allowing seawater to run into shallow lagoons where it evaporates. As the level drops due to evaporation, more seawater is admitted.
As the brine becomes more concentrated, common salt crystals start to form, and a skilled worker determines exactly when to harvest these for table use.
The residue can be either dumped back into the sea, or further evaporated used for road salt.
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Post by vtsnowedin »

Yes to all of that which brings us to using the richest salt bed you can find in regards to it's lithium content as that will give the lowest production costs. Straight extraction from present day sea water will not ever be the low cost answer until all the higher grade sources are fully depleted.
Mined road salt by the way varies in sodium/chloride content as well as color. Sources vary from blue to pink to yellow while solar salt from Saudi Arabia is very white and translucent. I'm sure a chemical analysis of the trace elements contained in the various salt domes being mined would vary greatly.
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