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ElectraLith to commercialise breakthrough lithium extraction technology

Carbon neutral lithium extraction technology developed using Microscopy Australia’s Monash University facility is being commercialised by start-up ElectraLith.

ElectraLith, a Monash University spin-off, has been launched to commercialise breakthrough technology for efficient and sustainable lithium production, with the backing of Rio Tinto, IP Group Australia, and Monash Investment Holdings.

Read more about how our Monash facility supported the development of this technology here.

ElectraLith is building an extraction system to filter lithium from brine using a membrane-based system, allowing the critical mineral to be extracted from salt lakes, mine tailings and other brine solutions using small amounts of solar generated electricity and without added chemicals or water. This method not only provides unmatched speed and yield, it is also expected to have the lowest energy requirement and environmental impact of all approaches to lithium refining.

Lithium is a critical mineral used in large-scale batteries for applications in electric vehicles, homes and renewable energy storage. It is expected that lithium supply will need to grow up to 800 per cent per annum by 2050 to meet green energy demand.

As well as helping accelerate global decarbonisation, the breakthrough technology could make onshore lithium processing competitive by securing Australia’s position in the growing battery industry and showcasing its advanced manufacturing capabilities.

“Current lithium extraction methods involve either roasting hard rock at high temperature and dissolving it with hot sulfuric acid, or evaporating brines in a solar pond, both of which use chemicals to precipitate lithium out. It is time consuming, disruptive, expensive and wasteful. My research in nanostructure membranes is all about efficiency and ingenuity to make the most of this limited mineral resource” said Prof. Huanting Wang who led the research.

Laureate Professor Huanting Wang (centre) and the Electralith team

“Lithium is a critical enabler of the clean energy transition and a multi-billion dollar opportunity for Australia. ElectraLith represents a remarkable opportunity to reshape the industry by simplifying the lithium production process in a low impact way.

“We are delighted to be working with Professor Wang and the team at Monash University to bring this breakthrough technology to market. This will have an impact both economically and environmentally on our path to net zero. ElectraLith is yet another great example of the incredible opportunities that can be achieved by the research being done at Australian universities.”

– Michael Molinari, IP Group Australia Managing Director

Lithium extraction in Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

July 4, 2023