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Join SCS Engineers at the Produced Water Society 2024 Conference in Houston, TX. This year’s event, New Waters: The Next Generation of Produced Water Management, is on February 6 – 8, 2024. Join PWS and SCS to keep your finger on the pulse of the rapidly developing world of produced water. In addition to hosting live and virtual events, the PWS tracks globally produced water-related events and opportunities that appeal to the wide interests of our communities, including those offered by environmental consultants and engineers, such as SCS’s Neil Nowak. The conference covers multiple topics, including disposal, discharge, recycling, reuse, PW quality and analysis, storage, transfer, distribution, and treatment technologies.
This year, David Palmerton is presenting Lithium Extraction from Oil Field Brines: Outlook, Opportunities, and Challenges
Lithium extraction from oil field brines, known as lithium brine extraction, has emerged as a critical endeavor to meet the growing demand for lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles and renewable energy storage systems. While the scientific literature on lithium extraction is expanding, specific data on processes for recovering lithium from oil field brines are limited.
Dave explores the potential of oil field brines as a source of lithium, with a focus on their environmental considerations. Additionally, he discusses the role of environmental consultants in ensuring sustainable lithium extraction practices.
Oil field brines can contain trace amounts of rare earth elements (REEs) in addition to lithium, though the concentration of REEs remains relatively low compared to other sources. Understanding the geological and geochemical aspects of oil and gas basins is crucial in assessing the feasibility of lithium extraction.
The environmental impact of lithium extraction from brines is both positive and negative. On the positive side, the utilization of existing oil and gas infrastructure and renewable energy sources can mitigate environmental concerns. However, challenges include water usage, chemical handling, and disposal of concentrated salts.
Dave’s discussion highlights the shift in perspective within the oil and gas industry, recognizing brines as valuable resources rather than waste products. It emphasizes the importance of sustainable practices and the role of consultants in achieving this goal.
The decision on the location and method of lithium extraction depends on factors like lithium concentration, economic viability, and regulatory requirements. Various technologies, including solvent extraction, ion exchange, and membrane separation, can isolate and recover lithium from brines.
Several pilot projects worldwide have demonstrated the feasibility of lithium recovery from oil field brines. Companies like Standard Lithium, ExxonMobil, POSCO Holdings, and PetroChina Southwest Oil & Gasfield Company are actively involved in these endeavors.
Economic viability relies on factors such as lithium concentration, extraction costs, market prices, and regulations. As the demand for lithium-ion batteries continues to rise, oil field brines have the potential to shift from a disposal cost to a valuable resource, transforming the landscape of the oil and gas industry.