The Salton Sea is California’s largest lake, is saline, and gets baking hot in the summer. There often are massive fish kills and it can reek. It is a major bird migratory route. Truly, it is a strange place. However, it also has abundant geothermal energy and – mixed in with the geothermal brine – is lithium. Controlled Thermal Resources plans to extract lithium, which is used in batteries, from the geothermal brine before pumping it back underground again.
They will use their own geothermal power to extract the lithium, thus it will be 100% clean and renewable. Plus the facility will have a small physical footprint, no open-pit mining or evaporation pools, and it will take less than an hour to produce the lithium. Wow.
Controlled Thermal Resources plans to have lithium production by 2023. They have twenty years experience producing geothermal energy in the Salton Sea so are well-positioned to extract the lithium too. The facility is sited near rail lines to make lithium transport simplified. Plus, they own several hundred acres for when other businesses move in to use the lithium they produce.
From their email newsletter:
“Battery-grade lithium products are produced from the brine directly (taking less than 1 hour), whilst utilizing renewable thermal heat as various forms of energy for processing.
The Salton Sea highly-mineralised geothermal brine resource in California is the largest and most robust in North America; in fact, the largest and most studied geothermal power resource on the planet.
CTR plans to deliver battery-grade lithium carbonate from our first train in 2023, just as demand is expected to outstrip supply on a global basis.”