lithium extraction

December 6, 2023

environmental protection during lithium extraction
The lithium extraction process provides a potential source of lithium to meet the rising demand for lithium-ion batteries, commonly utilized in electric vehicles and renewable energy storage systems.


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.

Environmental consultants play a crucial role in supporting lithium extraction from oil field brines by helping to conduct the process in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner. Consultants bring expertise in adopting best practices and technologies for mitigating environmental impacts associated with brine extraction and lithium processing. Incorporating environmental considerations in the early stages of project planning can contribute to maintaining sustainable practices throughout the entire project life cycle. Environmental consultants and engineers can offer a range of services for evaluating direct lithium extraction from oil field brine.

  • Conduct feasibility studies to assess lithium extraction projects’ technical, economic, and environmental viability.
  • Analyze the brine resource and provide estimates of lithium reserves and potential production rates. This can include sampling and testing oil-field brine.
  • Assess various lithium extraction technologies, such as adsorption, ion exchange, and solvent extraction, to determine the most suitable approach for a specific oil field brine.
  • Help design the extraction process, including the equipment, facilities, and infrastructure required for efficient lithium recovery.
  • Evaluate the environmental implications of lithium extraction and propose mitigation strategies to ensure sustainable practices.
  • Assist in navigating the regulatory requirements and permitting processes associated with lithium extraction, helping to ensure that projects comply with local, state, and federal regulations.

Click here to read “Lithium Extraction from Oil Field Brines: Outlook, Opportunities, and Challenges.” 


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 Dave at  or on LinkedIn.


Posted by Diane Samuels at 5:08 pm