Lilac Solutions is a lithium extraction technology company based in Oakland, California founded in 2016. Lilac’s mission is to scale global lithium production to support the electric vehicle industry and energy transition.
Lithium, a unique metal element has characteristics that cannot be replicated by other metals which has made it irreplaceable for the high-energy batteries that power our modern and increasingly electrified lifestyle in everything from mobile cellphones, to electric vehicles and even renewable energy utility scale energy storage solutions.
As a result, lithium has become essential for the global energy transition – its high energy density means fewer battery cells and smaller physical footprint than some more traditional alternatives translating to reduced costs for both electric vehicle and power grid applications. Around the world, vehicle manufacturers are converting product portfolios to purely electric vehicles – great news for the urban environment and the planet but demanding a 30 fold increase in lithium supply.
Most of the world’s lithium reserves are found in brines – natural deposits of salt water – and these potentially contain enough lithium to power the world. However, efforts to increase production from brines has been challenged by environmental and technical problems. The conventional extraction process requires large evaporation ponds that are environmentally damaging, slow to start up, and vulnerable to weather. This process suffers from low lithium recovery, low product purity, and is ineffective for most new brine discoveries with lower grades of lithium.
Lilac Solutions Inc., has developed and patented an innovative new ion exchange technology to extract lithium from brines without the need for these evaporation ponds. Their technology respects the environment while also accelerating project development, increasing recovery, and ultimately yielding a high-purity product. Ion exchange chemistry is already successfully deployed in a variety of water treatment and metals processing applications, but has never been effectively applied to lithium, until now. Lilac’s new ion exchange unlocks this powerful technology for the lithium industry.
In September 2021, the JIMCO Technology Fund participated in Lilac’s Series B funding round.
Lilac Solutions produces its ion exchange beads and delivers these to brine projects worldwide. The beads are loaded into tanks through which brine flows, and as the it percolates through the beads, they absorb lithium out of the brine. Once the beads are saturated with lithium, hydrochloric acid is used to flush out the lithium, yielding lithium chloride – the standard intermediary in every lithium brine project today. The lithium chloride is then processed conventionally processed on-site to yield a finished product – lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide – which is sold to battery manufacturers.
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