Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Oregon State start-up develops green, cost-effective method for extracting lithium


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: December 1st, 2021

An Oregon State University (OSU) start-up is banking on a technology that could lower the cost and environmental footprint of lithium mining.

Espiku has developed a portable device that uses low-grade heat to pressurize brine for lithium salt production, which would reduce production costs by roughly 50%, says Espiku founder and OSU researcher Bahman Abbasi.

“Beyond cost reduction, we will turn U.S. brine deposits into valuable resources for green lithium production, enhancing national energy security as we move more and more toward the electrification of our transportation sector,” Abbasi says.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) predicts that the demand for lithium — a key component of batteries for grid-scale electricity storage, as well as for electric cars and trucks — will increase by 500% over the next 30 years. If properly scaled up, Espiku’s technology could help the industry move forward in a more sustainable, cost-effective way.

Recently the OSU start-up was selected as a semifinalist in the DOE’s Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize, a competition in which teams of researchers and entrepreneurs develop green, economically viable methods for extracting lithium from geothermal brine.

“We are very excited to have been selected as a semifinalist and that the DOE sees promise in what we are trying to do,” says Abbasi. “We are aiming to meet an important national security need by producing lithium salts from domestic sources in a cost-effective, environmentally benign way.”

Source: Oregon State University – Cascades

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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