In a previous blog post, we highlighted the importance of the United State’s quest for energy independence and a discovery of a national lithium resource in Nevada that could change the game for us as a country. Well there is more good news on this front – this time out of California’s Salton Sea. The US Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy highlighted this in a recent news release report and again reiterated that “Lithium is vital to decarbonizing the economy and meeting President Biden’s goals of 50% electric vehicle adoption by 2030.” Additionally they stated that “this report confirms the once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a domestic lithium industry at home while also expanding clean, flexible electricity generation. Using American innovation, we can lead the clean energy future, create jobs and a strong domestic supply chain, and boost our national energy security.”
the saudi arabia of lithium”
The report about this news goes on to say, “The United States currently has limited capabilities to extract, refine, and produce domestically sourced lithium, meaning nearly all lithium for U.S. needs must be imported. Geothermal brines, which are a byproduct of geothermal electricity generation, often have high concentrations of minerals like lithium and zinc. While exact concentrations of these minerals depend on the location and surrounding geology, the use of direct lithium extraction (DLE) from geothermal brines offers a promising opportunity to couple clean, renewable electricity with a source of domestic lithium.”
A Yahoo! Fiance article followed the news posting more information with this headline: “World’s Largest Reserve Of REE (rare-earth elements) Lithium Discovered Beneath California’s Salton Sea: $540 Billion Motherlode Could Meet America’s Supply Demands For Decades.” In the article it goes on to say that California Gov. Gavin Newsome was touring the Salton Sea with President Joe Biden to tout America’s renewable energy industry when he referred to the area as ‘the Saudi Arabia of lithium.’ If that sounds like an exaggeration, consider that the DOE estimates there is enough lithium beneath the Salton Sea to provide batteries for more than 375 million electric vehicles (EVs).”
Salton sea Background
For some background on the Salton Sea, here’s what we can tell you. The Salton Sea is located in a geothermal hotspot, making the region rich in geothermal energy resources. The brine beneath the Salton Sea is known to contain elevated levels of lithium, among other minerals. As we all know, lithium is a crucial component in batteries, particularly those used in electric vehicles and various electronic devices. Given the growing demand for lithium-ion batteries as part of the global shift towards renewable energy and electric transportation, there has been interest in exploring lithium extraction from unconventional sources, including these types of geothermal brines. The idea is to extract lithium as a byproduct of geothermal energy production through direct lithium extraction.
Extracting lithium from the Salton Sea’s geothermal brines could have economic and environmental implications. It could contribute to the development of a domestic lithium supply chain in the United States, reducing dependence on lithium imports. However, it’s important to note that such projects also raise environmental concerns, and proper management and sustainable practices are crucial to mitigate any potential negative impacts on the local ecosystem. But with new technological advances in DLE like the ones being made by EnergyX, the future for harnessing this lithium efficiently and sustainably looks more promising than ever.