Everyone loves lithium, but mining it has an environmental impact. Everyone (here) hates oil, which has a much bigger footprint. But what if I told you that there is a way to extract lithium from existing oil wells, and that it is not only greener than other lithium extraction methods, but can even reverse some of the damage caused by oil drilling? How much would you pay?

Well, oil producer Imperial Oil was ready to shell out more than $6.35 million, which is how much the company recently invested in E3 Lithiuma Calgary company that has developed a technology to extract natural lithium from oil field brines.

Oil production is a water-intensive process – when oil is extracted from a well, it is replaced by a saltwater brine that enters the wastewater. In some cases, four to five gallons of brine must be pumped to extract a gallon of oil. The brine contains less than 1 percent oil, but can have a lithium carbonate concentration of up to 95 percent.

Most of the world’s lithium supply currently comes from hard rock and brine deposits; however, how Oil and gas 360 reports, recent advances in extraction technology may make it economically feasible to produce the so-called Naphthalite from oil and gas drilling wells using a low-carbon process with extremely low use of fresh water.

Lithium company E3 spent years developing its technology and successfully tested it in two wells.

“It’s an ion-exchange process used to extract low-concentration lithium from the brine that comes out of the Leduc Formation,” said E3 Lithium’s vice president of resource development, Peter Ratzlaff. World news. “This is our own source of lithium here in Canada. We don’t do that [need to] rely on places like South America, Australia or China for these materials.”

Alberta’s economy is heavily dependent on oil and gas, and there is strong interest in new industries that can provide jobs and repurpose existing infrastructure. Robin Boschman, director of external relations at E3, believes that his company’s technology can be a good addition to the oil and gas industry. “We will be able to reuse and repurpose much of the oil and gas infrastructure,” he told Global News. “And as we transition to commercial activity, we expect to create many long-term stable jobs in Alberta’s new economy.”

“It will mean some upscaling to develop new technologies and understand new techniques, but it’s something that can be transferred from the oil and gas industry,” agrees Energy Futures Lab director Julie Roll.

Another company engaged in the development of naphthalite technologies International Battery Metalswhich is partnering with IMPACT Technology Development to develop a mobile lithium extraction rig designed for rapid deployment and assembly at the oil brine well site.

Sources: World news, Oil and gas 360, GLJ


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