Lithium Extraction from Oil Field Brines: Outlook, Opportunities, and Challenges

A paper by David Palmerton, Jr., PG, covers the need for lithium and how the oil industry can help supply it. Oil field brine extraction is a naturally occurring aspect of oil and gas production. In some cases, underground reservoirs of saline water can hold substantial concentrations of dissolved lithium. The author takes us through the environmental issues with lithium extraction from brines and factors to consider such as the brine’s characteristics, economic aspects, environmental implications, and regulatory requirements.

He describes approaches generally classified into adsorption, ion exchange, and solvent extraction. Then covers technologies to isolate and recover lithium from the brine along with the techno-economics. He closes with the support of environmental consultants and some interesting pilot projects underway.

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David PalmertonAbout the Author: David Palmerton, Jr., PG, is a Project Director for the Environmental Services Practice. Mr. Palmerton has managed strategic and technical environmental consulting issues for Fortune 100 companies throughout the United States. He has typically provided senior technical oversight, strategic support, and cost control for large multi-component environmental sites. His consulting assignments have included environmental science-based investigations, including soil, sediment, groundwater, and dense non-aqueous phase (DNAPL) investigations and remediation at some of the nation’s most high-profile sites. Mr. Palmerton has over 35 years of experience in environmental consulting in the areas of environmental liability assessment, investigation and remediation. Reach David at or on LinkedIn.