Vast Supply of Lithium Discovered in UK, It Is Renewable and Carbon Neutral

Lithium is essential for modern batteries, and it is needed in mobile devices and electric vehicles alike. The latter requires a larger quantity of lithium for bigger batteries, and the way lithium is extracted in many parts of the world has been criticized. However, there is an alternative, and it involves geothermal energy.
Body of water and steam meant to illustrate geothermal energy 7 photos
Photo: Kerry on
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A geothermal power plant in the UK discovered what currently is the highest concentration of lithium in the geothermal fluid. Third-party testing has revealed that the fluid holds over 250 milligrams (3.858 grains) of lithium per liter (1.05 qt). It might not seem like much, but that is a lot of lithium, and the best part about it is that it comes from a sustainable source, and it is made with zero carbon emissions.

The geothermal plant will produce heat, power, and lithium. All three commodities will come from the same facility, and company representatives estimate they will be able to extract up to 4,000 tons of lithium annually.

The existing facility, United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project, can already produce 1,500 tons of lithium by the end of 2023, but it all depends on the technology it employs to extract the precious resource. The latter is still subject to experimentation in search of the most effective solution. Ryan Law, the founder of Geothermal Energy Ltd, told Euractiv that their current method is capable of extraction rates of 95 percent.

The process involves two wells that pump water from underground between them, which brings heat to the surface. The heat comes from water that reaches up to 200 degrees Celsius (392 F), but it is still a liquid due to the pressure that it is subjected to. Its elevated temperature allows absorption of minerals from the rocks in the ground.

The automotive industry in the UK will require 59,000 tons of lithium carbonate per year by 2035, estimates claim. Four geothermal plants will be built across the UK by 2026, and each will take 18 months (about 1 and a half years) to complete. With all four sites running and the existing facility operational, the company would reach its goal of 4,000 tons of sustainably sourced lithium extracted while also providing electricity and heat to thousands of homes.

According to the company, each geothermal site can power 45,000 homes. Geothermal energy is accessible in one form or another across the European continent, but it is not a popular investment due to its start-up costs, which are higher than other sustainable sources of energy.
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Editor's note: Photo gallery shows conventional Lithium mines.

About the author: Sebastian Toma
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Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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