Lithium Recovery from Geothermal Operations | SRI International

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Lithium Recovery from Geothermal Operations

Innovative sorbents open the door to new value streams for geothermal energy.

SRI is developing a new class of sorbents that can enable an efficient and cost-effective process for recovery of lithium from geothermal brines. The availability of additional revenue from lithium recovery and sales can expand the number of economically viable, green geothermal plants, with the added benefit of creating thousands of jobs in the United States. 

Building on work funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission, SRI is developing high-capacity selective solid sorbents and an eco-friendly sorbent regeneration process to directly recover lithium carbonate from lithium-rich brines. Compared to traditional methods of lithium recovery from brines, SRI’s sorbents and regeneration process are expected to lower the cost of lithium production by enabling online separation with higher recovery efficiency, using smaller volumes of sorbents, and minimizing processing time.  The process can also be tailored to recover lithium from conventional brines or even oilfield brines.

Geothermal energy is an environmentally friendly way to produce baseload power without emitting carbon dioxide. Enabling the recovery of valuable mineral co-products such as lithium can improve the economics of geothermal production. For conventional brine operations, SRI-developed sorbents can speed up lithium production and reduce the footprint of operations, which has environmental benefits.