Extraction of valuable metals from wastewater, brine, and acid mine drainage

Lithium (Li) has captured attention due to growing demand for Li-ion batteries in renewable energy technologies. Ore bodies and brines are the primary sources of Li; the latter makes up >60% of the world’s Li resources. During Li extraction from brine, undesirable ions are removed by sequential evaporation/precipitation in large surface ponds, processes which are environmentally intrusive, inefficient and slow. Since 2017, our group has collaborated with industry partners to develop a patent-pending sorbent technology that can extract more than 99% of Li from sub-100 ppm petroleum brines found in Alberta. This research project aims to develop a more fundamental understanding of sorbent chemistry, which is necessary in order to tune its chemistry for optimal performance and commercialization.