Lithium is used in the manufacturing of electric car batteries, cellphone batteries and nearly every other battery in electronic devices found around the world today. This commodity is not the easiest to acquire, calling for large scale mining projects and requiring a lengthy processing procedure. However a Canadian company, MGX Minerals has just filed a patent that could speed up the process of harvesting lithium from salt-brine and may even help reduce the environmental impact from oil and gas operations as well.
MGX Minerals new technology is connected to the oil and gas industry by utilizing a byproduct from their operations. This new technique has been tested in lab environments and produced lithium from the brine water which is produced as a byproduct of oil extraction. MGX has filed a United States Provisional Patent for this new method of extracting lithium from salt brine. This provisional patent will protect the company’s intellectual property globally for one year and during that time the company will choose which countries they will seek for additional protection.
This new process is vastly more efficient than conventional methods of extracting lithium from mineralized brine. Traditionally, lithium brine is evaporated outdoors which requires large ponds and a lot of time. This time-consuming process can be impacted by the elements and can even lead to low recovery rates of less than 50%. MGX’s process is designed to be connected to oil extraction installations and bring lithium brine evaporation times to less than one day. This is a 99% increase in efficiency when compared to the conventional processes which can take up to 18 months. The technology can be incorporated directly into the oilfields existing environmental disposal systems. They are also working on creating a scalable modular solution so this technology can fit different criteria depending on the facility in question.
If MGX’s patent is approved, their intellectual property will be protected for 20 years. The new process brings with it a plethora of benefits when compared to traditional lithium distillation processes but the technology is still in its very early stages of development. No word on when this technology may hit the Oil Sands or other oil installations around the globe.
Waste water is a huge concern with oil installations and putting it to good use can have a tremendous impact on these businesses. Lithium is a prized commodity and one that only continues to grow in popularity. As MGX hammers out the details and the technology scales up, it will be interesting to see how this will impact lithium production and the oil and gas industry as a whole. We’ll be following MGX and reporting on any new developments focused on their new process so check back soon to find the latest news, trends and technology throughout the manufacturing industry.