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Vulcan begins commissioning of lithium extraction plant in Germany

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Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd, the renewable energy producer and carbon neutral lithium developer, has commenced commissioning at its lithium extraction optimisation plant (LEOP).

Highlights:

Vulcan has commenced commissioning of its LEOP, for the purpose of extraction, purification, and concentration of lithium chloride from brine in the Upper Rhine Valley in Germany. This milestone represents a major step forward by Vulcan and its Zero Carbon Lithium™ project.

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This also represents significant progress towards enabling domestic European supply chain independence for lithium as a critical raw material and enabling a more sustainable EV battery production industry in Europe.

The commissioning phase for LEOP is expected to run until October, when first brine will be introduced into the plant for the lithium extraction process to begin.

Vulcan commenced building its LEOP in 2022, designed as an optimisation, operational training, and product qualification facility to enable commercial operational readiness for the end of 2025.
LEOP succeeds Vulcan’s pilot plant, which has successfully operated for 2.5 years, producing lithium chloride from Vulcan’s producing well sites.

To extract lithium from brine, Vulcan is using Adsorption-type DLE (A-DLE), which has been a commercially proven technology in the lithium industry since the 1990s. A-DLE is also beneficial in terms of low operating costs, greater time efficiency, and a lower carbon footprint than legacy industry methods of lithium production.

Vulcan will use its proprietary sorbent VULSORB® as part of the lithium extraction process. During the piloting phases, VULSORB demonstrated higher performance and lower water consumption for lithium extraction compared with commercially available sorbents tested by the company.

Once the lithium chloride is produced, it will be transported to Vulcan’s downstream central lithium electrolyser optimisation plant (CLEOP) in Frankfurt-Höchst where the lithium chloride will be converted into lithium hydroxide, which will be tested by Vulcan’s lithium offtake partners, Stellantis, Volkswagen, Renault, Umicore, and LG Energy Solution.

Vulcan’s Phase One commercial operation is targeting 24 000 tpy of lithium hydroxide production, to supply its offtakers in Europe with carbon neutral, domestically sourced lithium.

Cris Moreno, CEO, comments:

“The commencement of the commissioning of our LEOP facility represents a significant milestone for us, as well as the entire European battery industry. By 2030, Europe is likely to face a significant lithium shortage, which could have serious implications for the European battery and automotive industries if domestic supplies are not realised. Vulcan is gearing up to be the first to produce lithium from Europe, for Europe, but also to be the first company worldwide to produce carbon neutral lithium. The start of the commissioning of our LEOP facility is a key step toward the implementation of Phase One of our Zero Carbon Lithium project, and in enabling a secure and independent European supply chain for lithium.

“This is a great achievement of a determined team. Our pilot plants have already demonstrated the capability of A-DLE, a technology that has been commercially in use globally for decades, on our brines. With this determination, we will continue to advance in the coming months, driving the mobility transition in Europe, and serving as an inspiring example of what is possible, pioneering a carbon free future.”

 

Source: Global Mining Review

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