Inspenet, December 6, 2023.
The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has carried out a study supported by the Department of Energy to evaluate the amount of lithium present in an underground reserve beneath the Salton Sea, in California, United States.
Millionaire lithium reserve
Researchers have discovered that this lithium reserve contains enough to make batteries for 375 million electric vehicles . Detailed in the report titled ” Characterization of the Geothermal Lithium Resource in the Salton Sea ,” experts have estimated that there are approximately 18 million metric tons of lithium carbonate in this underground reserve, located in the Salton Sea.
This figure has been extrapolated from the portion of the geothermal field that has already been drilled, where at least 4 million tons of lithium have been identified in the form of brine . Drilling the rest of the field could not only provide geothermal energy but also increase total production to 18 million tons of lithium .
However, one of the main challenges arises in the form of how to commercially extract lithium from this geothermal brine. Unlike conventional mining techniques, extracting lithium from geothermal brine is considered less intrusive and is anticipated to cause less environmental impact.
Furthermore, the study highlights the advantage that this lithium extraction can go hand in hand with the generation of geothermal energy , which would allow the production of renewable energy to be combined with the obtaining of essential materials to boost the development of electric vehicles.
This finding could lead the United States to become self-sufficient in lithium and reduce its dependence on China in this area. Currently, the Salton Sea Geothermal Resources area has a geothermal generation capacity of 400 MW, but it is estimated that this could be increased to 2,950 MW.
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