The US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a $12-million Funding Opportunity Announcement to support the extraction and conversion of lithium from geothermal brines to use in batteries for stationary storage and electric vehicles.
Geothermal brines are a byproduct of geothermal power that contain a host of minerals, including lithium. This funding opportunity will support technologies to extract battery-grade lithium from geothermal brines directly—providing a cost-effective, domestic source of this critical material.
The funding opportunity will focus on two topic areas:
- Field Validation of Lithium Hydroxide Production from Geothermal Brines: pilot or demonstration projects to validate cost-effective, innovative lithium extraction and lithium hydroxide conversion technologies. Lithium hydroxide is used in the manufacture of lithium battery electrodes.
- Applied Research & Development for Direct Lithium Extraction from Geothermal Brines: R&D projects to advance emerging direct lithium extraction process technologies to increase efficiency, reduce waste generation, and/or reduce cost.
Projects for topic one can:
- Promote process intensification, such as through the elimination of intermediate lithium carbonate conversion
- Validate DLE [direct lithium extraction] in steady-state, continuously at a scale around one-tenth of commercial scale using real-world brines
- Produce battery-grade materials to support domestic battery cathode manufacturing
- Minimize or eliminate impact to human and environmental health and safety
- Easily integrated into existing facilities or allow for co-location of capabilities along the supply chain
- Proposed projects within this topic may make use of primarily synthetic brines but must use real brines for final results
- During the award performance period, life-cycle considerations should be assessed, including but not limited to, carbon, energy, chemical, and/or water intensity. Life-cycle analyses may be required to validate the assessment
- During the award performance period, the cost of proposed technologies and/or processes may be required to be validated by techno-economic analyses
Topic 1 is limited to industry-led partnerships, with small businesses being highly encouraged. Successful teams will include industry-relevant partners with existing or easy access to geothermal brines. Teams are also encouraged to partner with battery cathode producers. Topic 2 is limited to partnerships.
These goals also align with DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Roadmap Challenge, the Federal Consortium on Advanced Batteries National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries, and the American Battery Materials Initiative.
The estimated period of performance for the award will be three years. This funding opportunity is led by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) and Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO).