Lithium is essential today, as it is present in all electronic devices. It will be even more important when everything is electric, since batteries are usually lithium-ion, but we are not talking about a finite chemical element, so it is important to do research on how you can get more lithium responsibly.
A team of researchers from the University of Texas has been working on the issue and they have created an efficient extraction system that uses wastewater from oil and gas production facilities.
Lithium is abundant, but currently the extraction system is not environmentally friendly. It is possible to obtain it from the salty water of the sea, but the process is expensive, the numbers do not come out. Now they have discovered that it is possible to obtain it at oil and gas production facilities, which will close in a few years.
Describe the details in the document Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They comment that the wastewater generated during oil and gas production is as rich in lithium as the saltwater brines that are currently used.
Of the billions of liters of wastewater produced each day, no one has been interested in the existing lithium because the separation process is not very efficient, but now a new polymer has been designed that prioritizes the separation of lithium from water. , so it is much easier to obtain.
They use ethers that are not usually used in water treatment, but have a great capacity to specifically bind to sodium ions, making it easy to filter the element.
They believe that the wastewater produced in the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas in just one week can produce enough lithium for 300 electric vehicle batteries or 1.7 million smartphones.
An interesting way that companies dedicated to the extraction of oil can also make money with their waste.