Better Lithium Separation for Batteries

Better Lithium Separation for Batteries

Author: Costas Agalou

The production of lithium is projected to increase by 230 % from 2010 to 2020 as the demand for lithium ion batteries increases. The majority of Lithium worldwide production comes from brines. Brines contain Li+ but also other dissolved salts such as Ca2+, Mg2+, and borates.

Currently, purification techniques use liquid-liquid extraction, solvents, and filtration to remove BO3/BO4, Ca2+, and Mg2+. Mg2+ is particularly challenging to remove because Mg2+ and Li+ have similar properties in many solvents, including water, which complicates purification processes such as liquid-liquid extraction procedures.

Hang-Ah Park and colleagues, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, used redox-active catechol-bearing polydopamine melanins to coat stainless steel meshes. The catechols selectively chelate Mg2+ ions and separate them from Li+ ions in aqueous solutions at concentrations that are comparable to those of the brines used for sourcing raw lithium.

According to the researchers, catechol-based chelation of divalent cations can aid in purifying Li+ from brines in a cost-effective, chemically stable, and scalable manner.


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