Breakthrough lithium extraction system in development


Lithium is a critical mineral and its demand is skyrocketing due to its global use in large-scale batteries for electric vehicles and renewable energy storage.

In order to meet this exponential growth, lithium supply is projected to increase up to 800 per cent or approximately one million tonnes per annum by 2050 in accordance with renewable energy demand, making the need for efficient extraction methods more critical than ever.

To usher in a new era of lithium extraction, Monash University startup, ElectraLith, is building an extraction system to filter Lithium from brine using a polymer-ceramic composite membrane.

The new technology is compatible with renewable electricity and has the potential to reduce lithium production costs by up to 40 per cent, thereby making onshore processing more competitive with the lowest energy requirement and environmental impact of all approaches to lithium refining.

The system will allow the critical mineral to be extracted from salt lakes, mine tailings and other brine solutions using small amounts of solar generated electricity and without added chemicals or water.

At the forefront of this technology is Professor Huanting Wang, who, through his pioneering work in nanostructure membranes, has paved the way for ElectraLith’s groundbreaking technology.

“My research in nanostructure membranes is all about efficiency and ingenuity to make the most of this limited mineral resource,” he said.

According to Wang, current lithium extraction methods are time consuming, disruptive, expensive and wasteful.

“[They] involve either roasting hard rock at high temperature and dissolving it with hot sulfuric acid, or evaporating brines in a solar pond, both of which use chemicals to precipitate lithium out,” he said.

ElectraLith has since been selected by Australian technology incubator, Cicada Innovations, to feature the technology at Cicada x Tech23.

Selected from over 130 applications across Australia, ElectraLith will appear at the conference in July and present solutions on sustainably reshaping global mineral supply chains.

ElectraLith Chief Technology Officer, Dr SJ Oosthuizen, was pleased to take up the opportunity.

“We are honoured to demonstrate how scientific innovation can profoundly improve how we produce, use and recycle critical minerals— all while maintaining sustainability and saving costs,” he said.

“ElectraLith’s team of materials scientists and electrochemists are grateful for the opportunity to discuss the company’s transformative technology at this esteemed event.”

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