Chemists invent a more efficient way to extract lithium from mining sites, oil fields, used batteries

To support a circular economy, aluminum hydroxide can extract 37 milligrams of lithium per gram of recoverable sorbent in a single step (Credit: Jayanthi Kumar, Parans Paranthaman and Philip Gray/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy)

April 16, 2024 – Chemists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have invented a more efficient way to extract lithium from waste liquids leached from mining sites, oil fields and used batteries. They demonstrated that a common mineral can adsorb at least five times more lithium than can be collected using previously developed adsorbent materials.

For their method, the scientists used aluminium hydroxide as a sorbent, a material that absorbs and retains another material – in this case lithium sulphate. The results of the research have now been published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces under the title ‘Integrated Circular Economy Model System for Direct Lithium Extraction: From Minerals to Batteries Utilizing Aluminum Hydroxide’.

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