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Electrodialysis for the Concentration of Lithium-Containing Brines—An Investigation on the Applicability

  • The importance of lithium as a raw material is steadily increasing, especially in the growing markets of grid energy and e-mobility. Today, brines are the most important lithium sources. The rising lithium demand raises concerns over the expandability and the environmental impact of common mining techniques, which are mainly based on the evaporation of brine solutions (Salars) in arid and semiarid areas. In this case, much of the water contained in the brine is lost. Purification processes lead to further water losses of the ecosystems. This calls for new and improved processes for lithium production; one of them is electrodialysis (ED). Electrodialysis offers great potential in accessing lithium from brines in a more environmentally friendly way; furthermore, for the recovery of lithium from spent lithium-ion batteries (LIB), electrodialysis may become a vital technology. The following study focused on investigating the effect of varying brine compositions, different ED operation modes, and limiting factors on the use of ED for concentrating lithium-containing brine solutions. Synthetic lithium salt solutions (LiCl, LiOH) were concentrated using conventional ED in batch-wise operation. While the diluate solution was exchanged once a defined minimum concentration was reached, the concentrate solution was concentrated to the respective maximum. The experiments were conducted using a lab-scale ED-plant (BED1-3 from PCCell GmbH, Germany). The ion-exchange membranes used were PCSK and PCSA. The treated solutions varied in concentration and composition. Parameters such as current density, current efficiency, and energy requirements were evaluated. ED proved highly effective in the concentration of lithium salt solutions. Lithium chloride solutions were concentrated up to approximately 18-fold of the initial concentration. Current efficiencies and current densities depended on voltage, concentration, and the composition of the brine. Overall, the current efficiencies reached maximum values of around 70%. Furthermore, the experiments revealed a water transport of about 0.05 to 0.075% per gram of LiCl transferred from the diluate solution to the concentrate solution.

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Author:Frank Rögener, Lena Tetampel
Parent Title (English):Membranes
Editor:Peter Czermak, Stefan Panglisch
Document Type:Article
Date of first Publication:2022/11/15
Date of Publication (online):2023/02/27
GND-Keyword:Elektrodialyse; Lithium-Ionen-Akkumulator
Tag:Brine Recovery; Electrodialysis; Lithium; Lithium-Ion Batteries; Membrane Technology
Page Number:12
Institutes:Anlagen, Energie- und Maschinensysteme (F09) / Fakultät 09 / Institut Anlagen und Verfahrenstechnik
Dewey Decimal Classification:600 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften
Open Access:Open Access
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International