Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a new way to extract lithium from water.
Lithium is used to make phones, laptops, or electric vehicles: this element is in great demand. But obtaining it is still a difficult and ineffective process.
The authors of the new work have created a method for extracting lithium from contaminated water, which can reduce the cost of metal for the production of electronics. Nowadays, lithium is most often obtained from brine brines using solar evaporation – an expensive process that can take years, and during it most of the lithium is lost.
A research team at the University of Texas has developed membranes to accurately separate lithium from other ions such as sodium. This greatly improves collection efficiency.
In addition to brine brines, lithium is found in wastewater, which is formed during the extraction of oil and gas. In just one week, the researchers said they were able to obtain enough lithium to produce 300 electric vehicle batteries or 1.7 million smartphones.
The authors of the new work hope that their method will be suitable for the global tech industry.