BACC Editor on Thursday, 04 October 2012 19:29
The price of lithium, a lightweight metal that serves as a foundation for battery packs powering electric and hybrid vehicles, has risen 35 percent in the last 18 months. With projected annual sales of 3.9 million hybrids, 1.4, million plug-in hybrids, and 2.8 million full electric plug-in vehicles globally by 2020, the demand for lithium will only increase, and the incentive for companies to find ways to reduce the costs of extracting lithium is high.
Generally mined from ore, Pleasanton, CA-based Simbol Materials believes that extracting lithium from geothermal brine using a reverse osmosis filtration system could be a much more cost-effective means for acquiring the popular metal. Conventional evaporation methods can take 18 months to complete, but the process Simbol employs takes only about two hours, effectively cutting down extraction time and cost. Simbol CEO Luka Erceg expects the company’s proposed Imperial Valley plant will help it increase output from 8,000 tons a year to nearly 64,000 tons by the end of the year—equal to 21 percent of projected global demand.