A Bill Gates-led fund called Breakthrough Energy Ventures has backed lithium brine explorer Lake Resources’ (ASX: LKE) technology partner Lilac Solutions during a series A U$20 million investment round.
Several of the world’s business leaders established the $1 billion Breakthrough Energy fund to support companies with potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Breakthrough Energy’s investors include Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, co-founder of Alibaba Jack Ma, and Bloomberg founder Michael Bloomberg.
The fund led the round, which also included participation from other investors including The Engine, Lowercarbon Capital and The Grantham Foundation.
Lake and Lilac partnership
According to Lake, Lilac’s direct lithium brine extraction technology offers a “sustainable solution” in producing lithium carbonate.
In lithium brine operations, Lilac’s technology involves removing the lithium from the brine then returning the processed brine to aquifer where it was extracted.
This eliminates the need for traditional evaporation ponds, which are used in conventional lithium brine operations.
Lake added Lilac’s technology is “significantly faster, cheaper and more scalable” than existing methods.
Investment in Lilac proves positive for Lake’s chosen process
Lake managing director Steve Promnitz said the investment in Lilac was also a “vote of confidence” in Lake’s lithium processing strategy.
“This is quality, third party validation in Lake selecting Lilac as our technology provider – providing increased efficiency in recoveries and a shorter time to market with sustainable lithium products and a smaller environmental footprint without expansive evaporation ponds.”
“These investors made money by investing in disruptive technologies, seeing opportunities and promoting higher efficiencies with greater environmental outcomes,” Mr Promnitz added.
Lilac funding allocation
Lilac’s US$20 million funding will be allocated toward expanding its engineering team, and scaling up production of its ion-exchange beads, which are the core of its lithium extraction system.
Funds will also be used towards deploying the technology.
Lilac chief executive officer and founder Dave Snydacker said the company “couldn’t be more excited” to have this “spectacular” group of investors supporting its vision to modernise lithium production.
“Other companies have tried to build these ion-exchange beads in the past, but they were either not selective enough at picking lithium out of the mixture of minerals or fell apart after just a few cycles,” Mr Snydacker explained.
Meanwhile, Breakthrough Energy’s Carmichael Roberts said Lilac’s technology had the potential to alter the supply and demand equation by helping lithium producers extract much higher quantities of lithium at a lower cost.
“This is the type of industrial innovation required to support a transition to electric vehicles at scale,” Mr Roberts added.