An environmentally friendly lithium mine in the disastrous Salton Sea
It sounds more like the beginning of an apocryphal prophecy, but it appears humanity has discovered a way to extract lithium from below California’s thickening pool of toxicity, the Salton Sea, in a manner that will leave things ‘cleaner’ than when the extraction began.
The Salton Sea is a once dry ancient lake bed accidentally flooded in more recent times by early mistakes and wasteful farming practices. Filled with run-off chemical fertilizers, radioactive waste, and general trash. Briefly used as a resort, now the Sea seems to mostly be a source of toxic dust that blows into nearby communities — and a place to live off the grid.
GM just announced that it became the first investor in a project run by Controlled Thermal Resources. CTR will pump hot, salty water from deep below the Salton Sea and extract the lithium from it, along with clean thermo energy at the same time. Cleaner water goes back into the Salton Sea and the ground beneath it. It’s a win-win. You might even add another win in there when you consider the California Energy Commission’s estimate that the Salton Sea area could produce 600,000 tons of lithium per year, which is amazing since the entire world’s industry produced a mere 85,000 tons of lithium in all of 2019.
“CTR’s lithium resource at the Salton Sea in California is one of the largest known lithium brine resources in North America,” CTR said in a release. “The integration of direct lithium extraction with renewable geothermal energy offers the highest sustainability credentials available today. CTR’s closed-loop, direct lithium extraction process utilizes renewable power and steam—significantly reducing the time to produce battery-grade lithium products and eliminating the need for overseas processing. CTR’s operations will have a minimal physical footprint and a near-zero carbon footprint. The brine, after lithium extraction, is returned to the geothermal reservoir deep within the earth.”
A source of plentiful and ‘clean’ lithium would be excellent, but the history of the Salton Sea suggests we’ll get some new surprises. Perhaps a gateway to Lemuria.
via Boing Boing https://boingboing.net
July 22, 2021 at 08:40AM