EPCA ’12: US Albemarle works to extract lithium from Arkansas brine

08 October 2012 16:32  [Source: ICIS news]

BUDAPEST (ICIS)--US Albemarle hopes to be able to commercially extract lithium from its Arkansas brine reserves in about a year, a company executive said on Monday.

“We have a lot of people dedicated on getting a process where we can extract it at world scale lowest costs,” said Amy Motto, vice president, catalysts.

“We still have a little more work to do but we’re hoping in about a year we will have a process ready to go and will start investing capital to make it a reality,” Motto said on the sidelines of the 46th annual European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) meeting.

Albemarle gets bromine, which is used in flame retardants and other products, from its brine fields near Magnolia, Arkansas. The brine there also has a high concentration of lithium, Motto said.

Albemarle also gets its bromine from a site at the Dead Sea in Jordan, but the brine there does not have as a high a concentration of lithium, she said.

According to the US-based producer, the market for lithium chemicals is expected to reach $1.2bn (€924m) globally by 2015, primarily from increased demand for batteries in electric vehicles.

Lithium derivatives include lithium carbonate and butyl lithium, Motto said, adding butyl lithium is used as a catalyst in the production of elastomers.

“We have done a good job with bromine in transferring it to various bromine derivatives,” Motto said. “That is our hope for lithium to do the same thing.”

The annual EPCA meeting runs from 6-10 October.

 ($1 = €0.77)
By: Brian Ford
+1 713 525 2653

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