E3 Lithium’s Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) Technology
E3’s DLE ion-exchange technology uses a proprietary sorbent designed to be highly selective towards lithium ions. It quickly and efficiently reduces large volumes of low-grade brine into a high-grade lithium concentrate in one step, simultaneously removing nearly all impurities. This produces a very clean product for the development of high purity lithium compounds used in Li-ion batteries. Batteries for electric vehicles are the fastest growing market for lithium products and therefore high purity lithium products for direct sale to this market is E3’s focus.
Saline formation water in E3’s resource area contains lithium, as well as high levels of dissolved solids. To effectively extract and concentrate lithium from the saline formation water, special sorbents are required that have a high affinity for lithium, while simultaneously rejecting unwanted ions and metals.
Over the past 5 years, working in partnership with the University of Alberta, private labs, and now at our development facility in Calgary, E3 has developed and optimized a highly lithium selective sorbent perfect for the extraction of lithium from our brines. These sorbents selectively extract lithium from saline formation water and produce a clean lithium product stream with low levels of unwanted ions.
Lab results demonstrate:
- Over 90% lithium recovery
- Over 98% impurity removal (eg. calcium, magnesium, sodium)
- 20x-100x lithium concentration factor
Other lithium producers typically rely on one of two methods to produce lithium:
- Evaporative ponds (‘salars’): these producers slowly concentrate lithium in ponds as evaporation takes place. This process occurs over many months, requiring large amounts of water and significant surface disturbance for ponds.
- Lithium mines: these producers remove waste rock (overburden) to uncover the lithium host rock, and dispose of the overburden in waste dumps. Lithium-bearing rock is mined, crushed, milled and processed to produce a lithium concentrate and a tailings stream. This tailings stream must be stored in a tailings impoundment. These mines are energy intensive and cause significant land disturbance for waste dumps, open pits, and tailings ponds.
E3’s proprietary, low-energy DLE process has several advantages over these producers.
- The process is fast – we recover lithium in minutes, not months.
- The process has a much smaller land disturbance footprint – In E3’s process, saline formation water is re-injected back into the formation. We don’t require evaporative ponds, mining waste dumps, open pit mines or tailings ponds.
- The process has no freshwater aquifer interaction – E3's brine resource is located 2,500 metres beneath the surface, and its process requires no freshwater aquifer interaction.
Unless otherwise indicated, Christopher Ward, P. Eng., Manager of Projects at E3 Lithium and a Qualified Person under National Instrument 43-101, has reviewed and is responsible for the engineering and process technical information contained in this website.