Canada-based E3 Metals says it has received a government grant totalling C$1.8 million ($1.4 million) from Alberta Innovates that will assist it in funding a pilot plant to test out its proprietary Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology.
DLE technology, the company says, seamlessly connects conventional oil field and lithium processing, with the potential to unlock Alberta’s previously untapped lithium resources.
This direct brine process produces a concentrate feedstock that could be turned into lithium hydroxide using conventional production equipment, according to the company, with the benefit of DLE being that it can achieve at least 20 times to almost 100 times concentration of lithium (up to 5,300 mg/L) with a reduction of over 99% of all impurities and an extraction time of hours. This is achieved with average lithium recoveries of over 90%, the company says.
“E3 Metals’ goal is to commercialise its global-scale lithium resource and deliver zero carbon emissions, battery grade lithium products to the growing electric vehicle supply chain,” it said.
The funding provided by Alberta Innovates is to support the demonstration E3 Metals’ DLE technology by progressively scaling it up from the lab prototype to a field pilot. The first step will be a prototype operating within E3 Metals’ Calgary lab, and then a field pilot operating continuously on a site within E3 Metals’ resource area in Alberta.
“By demonstrating the process at a pilot scale over numerous months, the company plans to significantly de-risk its Alberta lithium project prior to scaling up to the anticipated commercial scale of 20,000 t/y lithium hydroxide monohydrate,” it said.
Alberta Innovates is a provincially funded corporation with a mandate to deliver 21st century solutions for the most compelling challenges facing Albertans, E3 Metals says. It does this by building on the province’s research and technology development strengths in the core sectors of health, environment, energy, and food and fibre, and platforms such as clean technology, digital technology for business transformation, data-enabled innovation, and innovative production and distribution.
E3 Metals has 7 Mt of lithium carbonate equivalent inferred mineral resources in Alberta within the Leduc Reservoir. Some 1.9 Mt of this is confined within its Clearwater lithium project.