Continuous electrical pumping membrane process for seawater lithium mining

Zhen Li, Chunyang Li, Xiaowei Liu, Li Cao, Peipei Li, Ruicong Wei, Xiang Li, Dong Guo, Kuo-Wei Huang, Zhiping Lai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Seawater contains significantly larger quantities of lithium than is found on land, thereby providing an almost unlimited resource of lithium for meeting the rapid growth in demand for lithium batteries. However, lithium extraction from seawater is exceptionally challenging because of its low concentration (~0.1-0.2 ppm) and an abundance of interfering ions. Herein, we creatively employed a solid-state electrolyte membrane, and design a continuous electrically-driven membrane process, which successfully enriches lithium from seawater samples of the Red Sea by 43?000 times (i.e., from 0.21 to 9013.43 ppm) with a nominal Li/Mg selectivity >45 million. Lithium phosphate with a purity of 99.94% was precipitated directly from the enriched solution, thereby meeting the purity requirements for application in the lithium battery industry. Furthermore, a preliminary economic analysis shows that the process can be made profitable when coupled with the Chlor-alkali industry.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3152-3159
Number of pages8
JournalEnergy and Environmental Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-06-15
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): BAS/1/1375-01, URF/1/3769-01.
Acknowledgements: This work was financially supported by the KAUST baseline fund BAS/1/1375-01 and the KAUST competitive research fund URF/1/3769-01.


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