Tapping some of the enormous amounts of thermal energy that emanates from deep within the earth is one of the more promising methods of renewable power. Unlike wind and solar, geothermal tends to be a lot more consistent than the sun or flow of air. It now looks like geothermal power could have another potential benefit: waste water from at least one geothermal plant in central California is rich in lithium.

This is important because the increasing number of electric and hybrid vehicles will demand a lot of lithium ion batteries. Currently, the biggest sources of lithium are Bolivia and Chile, with some also coming from China. Those lithium sources consume a lot water in processing. The Lawrence Livermore Lab has developed a process to remove the silicates that have previously made it difficult to extract the lithium from the geothermal water.

Simbol Mining is using this process for a new demonstration plant being built on the Salton Sea to produce lithium.

[Source: NewScientist]

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