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CleanTech produces high quality lithium concentrate from newly commissioned pilot plant at Copiapó

08:45, 14th May 2024
Alastair Ford
Vox Newswire

CleanTech Lithium PLC (CTLFollow | CTLhas released highly encouraging results processing brine from the Laguna Verde project at the company´s Direct Lithium Extraction pilot plant in Copiapó, Chile.

The DLE pilot plant has produced high quality eluate with low impurities. A lithium grade in feed brine of 196mg/L was concentrated to 710mg/L in the eluate, or a 3.6X concentration factor. 

A reverse osmosis unit at the DLE pilot plant was then used to concentrate the eluate prior to shipment, concentrating the test batch from a lithium grade of 710mg/L in the eluate to 2,194mg/L in the concentrated eluate.

The rejection rate for key contaminants was over 99%.

An initial 200L of concentrated eluate has now been sent to a third-party processor in North America for test work to set up the process plant for conversion of eluate into battery grade lithium carbonate.

CTL will ship further batches of the concentrated eluate for conversion in due course, with the first batch scheduled for later this month.

Overall, the pilot plant in Copiapó has demonstrated that it can operate at the designed capacity of concentrated eluate production sufficient for conversion to 1 tonne per month of battery grade lithium carbonate.

This places CleanTech Lithium at the forefront of exploration companies in Chile and the wider sector in its ability to make available large samples of lithium carbonate product to potential strategic and offtake partners seeking to start product qualification.

"The analysis of the eluate shows the DLE performance has exceeded our expectations, concentrating the lithium grade of the feed brine by 3.6X while achieving high recovery rates and low impurities,” said Steve Kesler, executive chairman of CleanTech Lithium.

“The first full batch of 24m3 of concentrated eluate is scheduled to be shipped in the coming weeks. The pilot plant has met its design capacity capable of producing 1 tonne of LCE per month, positioning CleanTech Lithium to produce significant quantities of lithium product samples for potential strategic partners. We are edging closer to be one of the first DLE based companies in Chile to produce battery-grade lithium carbonate." 

 The DLE pilot plant in Copiapó is approximately 250km from Laguna Verde, and finished commissioning in late March. 

At the R&D centre where the pilot plant is located, brine from the Laguna Verde project is stored in a large 243,000 litre vessel outside the pilot plant and then fed into an indoor tank, having passed through filtration to remove suspended solids. It is then fed into the DLE columns, which are filled with adsorbent designed to be selective for lithium molecules. 

Lithium, as lithium chloride, is adsorbed from the brine, before desorption with water to create a purified lithium chloride eluate.

A reverse osmosis unit then concentrates the eluate by extracting approximately 75% of the water before this concentrated eluate is shipped to the facilities of Conductive Energy in Chicago, USA for conversion into battery grade lithium carbonate. 

View from Vox

This is good news for CleanTech, and goes a long way towards showing proof of concept. The more batches the company can successfully get away and get processed the more confident the market can become. And in the meantime, there's the possibility of a rebound in the lithium price gathering pace, at just around the same time that CleanTech enters the market as a major seller. 




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