Schlumberger New Energy’s new venture, NeoLith Energy, is to deploy a lithium extraction pilot plant at Pure Energy Minerals’ lithium brine project in Clayton Valley, Nevada. Using NeoLith’s sustainable practices, a differentiated DLE (direct lithium extraction) process will enable the production of battery-grade, high-purity lithium materials in a matter of weeks compared with over a year using traditional production methods.
Due to the increasing number of EVs, demand for battery-grade lithium is growing at a similar rate, meaning solutions to increase production times are needed for a variety of industries and manufacturers.
Schlumberger aims to use the results from the pilot plant to eventually create a full-scale commercial lithium operation. In keeping with the venture’s sustainable processes, green methods will be utilized for subsurface brine extraction and lithium production, reducing the environmental footprint and also cutting the facility’s water consumption by 85%. Operations at the new plant are expected to begin before the end of 2021, once all necessary permits have been received.
The pilot plant is part of Pure Energy Minerals’ previously signed agreement with Schlumberger New Energy for the development of the Clayton Valley lithium brine facility, using advanced technologies to extract high-purity lithium products and maximize lithium resource recovery.
Schlumberger New Energy has invested US$15m in DLE operations and estimates the pilot plant in Clayton Valley will need a similar injection of funds. The company says the DLE process can disrupt the lithium economy and create a range of opportunities across the world in regions that need a larger supply of the high-purity metal.
“Nevada lithium resources present an excellent opportunity to demonstrate a leap in production efficiency with a more sustainable approach,” commented Ashok Belani, Schlumberger New Energy executive vice president. “Schlumberger’s expertise in the subsurface domain, development of process technology and global deployment of technology at scale with various partners all play an important role in the innovation and efficiency of our DLE process. We are accelerating the deployment of our pilot plant in response to the high market demand for battery-grade lithium material.”