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Lithium Brine Extraction

Recover Lithium from Flowback and Produced Water

Global demand for lithium is growing rapidly and the economic case for lithium recovery from flowback brine water extraction is strengthening oil and gas investment decisions.

Wastewater and produced water often contain large quantities of battery-grade minerals and metals, and disposal without recovery could lead to the disposal of valuable income. With proven metal extraction processes available, and regulatory clarity recently provided in Alberta by the Mineral Resource Development Act, Canadian producers and solution miners are gearing up to utilize the wealth of existing deep-pore infrastructure to meet the growing lithium demand.

We have worked with proven lithium extraction processes and there is a clear economic and ESG incentive to consider lithium brine recovery in your project development plan. As technology arbiters, we balance the economic and technical trade-offs between the extraction approach and equipment selection to achieve the best technical and environmental performance at the lowest capital cost.

Lithium Extraction Technical Evaluation & Recovery Feasibility

Traditional battery mineral refining processes, such as acid-leaching, or carbonate-leach processes, are energy-intensive, logistically challenging, and require substantial chemical use. Continental brines are slow and contingent on consistently dry and hot environmental conditions.

Typically, produced waters in North America are stable and relatively pH benign. As such, suspended minerals cost less in energy and chemicals to process. Furthermore, produced waters can also produce desalinated water for beneficial reuse.

To assess feasibility, we first establish your concentration and extraction requirements with our chemical modelling and assessment services. We then help design the ideal concentration and extraction approach and prepare your regulatory pathway.

  • Water chemistry evaluations
  • Aqueous chemical modelling
  • Inlet flow rate development
  • Treatment train design
  • Business case development
  • Regulatory application & permitting
  • ESG reporting

Lithium Brine Concentration and Recovery System Design

Extraction technology doesn’t only cover lithium, and we can also assist with selenium, copper, vanadium, nickel, and manganese recovery. During the evaluation, we will consider current brine extraction technologies such as solvent, membrane, and ionic sieves processes; and pair them with concentration technologies to help achieve market-quality metal products.

  • Fluid diluent (e.g. Kerosene)
  • Extractants, (e.g. Crown ethers & organophosphorus agents)
  • Co-extraction agent (e.g. Ferric chloride, fluorine-containing anions and metal bis(triflyl)imides
  • Removal of competing divalent cations
  • Pressure, electrical or thermal gradients
  • Nanofiltration
  • Ion Imprinted membrane for selective absorption
  • Electrochemical
  • Membrane Distillation Crystallization (MDC)
  • Reverse Osmosis
  • PH dependent ion exchange process
  • Optimized brine pH conditions for maximum capacity and process rates
  • Regenerative – exposure to the source solution, high affinity for Li Ions
  • Precursor materials manufactured with ion of choice
  • Feed brines introduces to stripped ionic sieves, replaces H+ ion
  • Lithium salt production

Lithium Brine Extraction Challenges & Risks

From a primary production standpoint, the risk and cost of water withdrawal from wells at scale, refining, and re-injection are mitigated through existing infrastructure and known solutions to technical challenges.

While there is risk in resource ownership, and water usage in primary production scenarios, lithium extraction from existing sources and infrastructure reduces water sourcing costs and improves acceptability within the regulatory landscape.

Have questions?

Talk to a sustainability specialist today.

    Project casestudies for
    Lithium Brine Extraction

    Fracking Fluid Reuse Analysis

    Prepare a sampling plan and conduct a compatibility analysis to assess feasibility of reusing hydraulic fracturing flowback for future completions.

    Chemical Modeling for Waste Streams

    Study the effect of stream mixing water disposal challenges, specifically related to mixing of thermal heavy oil produced water blow down (BD) with other waste streams such as emulsion treating liquids.

    Produced Water Hub

    The client requested that Integrated Sustainability transform an existing borrow pit into a Lined Water Storage Pond/Water Hub in northeast British Columbia. The Pond will be used to store a combination of hydraulic fracturing fluid (flowback) and make-up source water, which could include saline groundwater, freshwater, or a combination of the two.

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