Schlumberger New Energy has announced a new lithium extraction plant in Clayton Valley, Nevada, a pilot plant to be precise. This pilot plant is being developed by a subsidiary of Schlumberger New Energy, NeoLith Energy.
The company claims an exceptionally sped up production process. “The NeoLith Energy sustainable approach uses a differentiated direct lithium extraction (DLE) process to enable the production of high-purity, battery-grade lithium material while reducing the production time from over a year to weeks,” the company says. “This innovative process can create new market opportunities for lithium extraction and battery manufacturing economy, and maximize the value of the lithium-rich resource base in Nevada with cutting-edge extraction technology.”
As I noted recently, with dramatic growth in the electric vehicle market expected in the coming years, there’s a supply crunch expected in the lithium market. Even with a 10-fold increase in lithium supply by 2030, it seems unlikely that the auto market could reach 50% electric vehicle market share of new auto sales. So, any bit of new sourcing and any improvements to mining and processing timing are a helpful step toward an electric transportation future. This pilot plant is expected to launch into operation before the end of the year.
Assuming all goes smoothly at this pilot plant in Clayton Valley, NeoLith Energy will use learnings there to plan and develop a full commercial lithium production plant. “The production plant will utilize an environmentally friendly method for subsurface brine extraction and lithium production that requires a significantly smaller footprint and reduces water consumption by over 85% compared to current methods for lithium extraction from brine.”
“Nevada lithium resources present an excellent opportunity to demonstrate a leap in production efficiency with a more sustainable approach,” said Ashok Belani, Schlumberger New Energy executive vice president. “Schlumberger’s expertise in the subsurface domain, development of process technology, and global deployment of technology at scale with various partners all play an important role in the innovation and efficiency of our DLE process. We are accelerating the deployment of our pilot plant in response to the high market demand for battery-grade lithium material.”
Are you sold?
We shall see how this turns out and if the results are as great as the potential. More commentary and context can be found here.