China finds greener way to make lithium batteries - China Watch - Chinadaily Forum
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China finds greener way to make lithium batteries [Copy link] 中文

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(Xinhua) -- A new method for extracting lithium in a greener and more efficient way has passed China's state-level appraisal, paving way for its commercialization to boost the new energy sector.

Qiu Zumin, professor of the institute of environmental science and engineering in Nanchang University, said the new lithium extraction technology has passed the national scientific and technological achievements appraisal. It is expected to replace current lithium extraction methods in China, which have been blamed for producing huge amounts of waste, and have low profitability.

Lithium batteries are essential to power modern electronic devices, such as mobile phones, laptops and electronic cars. Lithium is also used in medicine, pottery, glass and other industries.

Lithium cells rely on lithium carbonate as the raw material. China imports 80 percent of its lithium carbonate, though it is rich in lithium resources, due to backward mining technology.

With traditional methods, 30-40 tonnes of waste are produced in making 1 tonne of lithium carbonate. It is also very costly to treat the waste.

The new method is jointly developed by the Jiangxi Haohai Lithium Energy, Nanchang University and other institutions. It can separate all the elements in lithium micas.

Peng Guiyong, chair of Haohai, said the company plans to invest 1 billion yuan (156 million U.S. dollars) to build a production line with an annual capacity of 40,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate.

Jiangxi boasts the world's largest lithium mica mine. The province's reserve of lithium oxide accounts for one-third of China's total.

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Post time 2018-6-11 21:43:44 |Display all floors
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Issue Date: December 18, 2017

A greener way to get lithium?
Sorbent could extract the battery material from geothermal power plant brine.

A newly improved sorbent could offer an environmentally friendly way to get lithium from a relatively untapped resource in the U.S.: the brine produced by geothermal power plants (Environ. Sci. Technol. 2017, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b03464).

These plants pump hot water from deep geothermal deposits and use it to generate electricity, leaving behind a salty solution that can contain hundreds of parts per million lithium—a commodity in demand for lithium-ion batteries. Passing the brine through a sorbent that captures the lithium ions before pumping the brine back underground could collect the metal without the heavy environmental impacts of typical extraction methods, which can generate large amounts of acid or salt waste.

The sorbent in the new study is made out of layers of [LiAl2(OH)6]+ with chloride ions and water in between them. Voids in the structure can fill with additional lithium ions but are too small to let in competing cations like sodium.

Using a simulated brine solution, Parans Paranthaman of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and colleagues captured 91% of the initial lithium in the brine with the improved sorbent and found that the material is strongly selective for lithium over sodium and potassium.

York R. Smith, a metallurgical engineer at the University of Utah, notes that this sorbent has a lower capacity than alternative sorbents that have been tested. He adds, however, that the researchers’ use of lithium chloride to release lithium from the sorbent instead of acid, as is required for other sorbents, is attractive from an environmental perspective.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2018 American Chemical Society
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seneca Post time: 2018-6-11 14:59
Is this just hype or is it real? The Xinhua article is parsimonious with details. Why? Are the comra ...

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