In the state of California in the United States, several companies have begun to develop infrastructure to extract lithium, an important raw material for making batteries for electric cars, from underground. Lithium is a by-product of many geothermal power plants operating in the region.
A New Lithium Mining Center The 970-square-kilometer area may form around the Saltan Sea, which is heavily polluted with agricultural pesticide residues and metals such as molybdenum, cadmium, selenium and lithium.
The United States wants to become a world leader in lithium mining. At this point, however, the country must use all its shares In China and a limited number of other countries Purchase. “However, if an efficient method is found to extract lithium from wastes from geothermal plants in California, that situation may change in a few years,” observers note.
There are several power plants in California that generate electricity from geothermal energy. This technology represents 6 percent of the total electricity generation in the US state.
However, the product is still more expensive than other renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, but that could change if the wastewater from the process could be treated.
After all, sewage from power plants is a salt water mixture of dissolved minerals and metals. This includes lithium. Technologies that can isolate lithium from those wastes can add significant value to the U.S. economy.
Studies by the U.S. Department of Energy indicate that the Salton Sea, one of California’s two major geothermal power plants, produces about 600,000 tons of lithium per year. That stock is currently greater than the amount currently consumed by the United States.
The move could generate $ 7.2 billion in annual revenue. Moreover, strong growth in the process can be expected in the long run. At the end of this decade, global demand for lithium is estimated After all, at least a tenfold increase Know.
The move could provide significant employment in an area that is struggling with high unemployment. Industrial activities can reduce the toxicity of the Saltan Sea by treating saltwater, thus having a positive ecological impact on the environment.
The Salten Sea has a salinity of 6.8 percent. In the Pacific, it is recorded at 3.5 percent. The area around the lake is now referred to by many as the ‘Lithium Valley’.
In addition, lithium mines can be considered in many places in California, such as Arizona and Nevada.
However, experts point out several drawbacks. Will Stringfellow, head of lithium research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, explains, “Lithium separation is a very complex process.
“In addition, many logistics challenges need to be addressed and extraction must be done in a sustainable way without burden to the environment.
In some countries, lithium is traditionally cut, but in California the brine must be sucked to the surface and then pumped to storage tanks.
There, the heat from the sun evaporates the water, leaving only lithium and many other raw materials. However, this process can take up to two years. In addition, it can recover up to 50 percent of total lithium reserves.
The U.S. government has set aside up to $ 30 million for courses to help find solutions Efficient mining Lead.
The California Energy Authority has licensed three companies to build pilot facilities in the Salton Sea. Work on setting up the necessary infrastructure has already begun.
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