LANXESS explores feasibility of battery-grade lithium extraction at El Dorado site

Source: ICIS News

2019/03/14

COLOGNE (ICIS)--LANXESS is exploring the feasibility of extracting lithium from bromine brine at the El Dorado, US, site it acquired through the purchase of Chemtura that could potentially be used for electric vehicle-grade batteries, CEO Matthias Zachert said on Thursday.

The Germany-based chemicals producer is working with Standard Lithium on  the project, which combines the start-ups proprietary technology with LANXESS’ infrastructure and raw materials, with work underway on a pilot plant expected to start in the fourth quarter of the year.

The El Dorado site is used for the production of flame-retardant additives produced from bromine, as well as other derivatives from the material, and the potential for battery-grade lithium production at the site was not something the company had thought of when it acquired the complex, according to Zachert

“If was can have battery-quality lithium extracted, it would be a big feat, something we never thought of when we took over Chemtura, so that was a surprise,” he said, speaking at the company’s headquarters in Cologne, Germany.

LANXESS has three towers operating at the site capable of extracting bromine brine, so the investment required to extract the material is minimal, he added, while Standard Lithium is the only company with technology that can extract lithium from bromine brine.

The arrangement between the two companies extends to profit-sharing in the event the work proves productive, with LANXESS to take the lion’s share, according to Zachert.

However, the success of he project is far from certain, so the company is being cautious about touting the possible returns that it could offer he added.

“We are being cautious,” he added.