Volt Lithium partners with Canadian research labs to unlock lithium riches from oilfield brine
Technology and ESG-focused Volt Lithium Corp (TSX-V: VLT) is calling on the expertise of two leading Canadian research labs to help it unlock an issue, which could potentially unlock future lithium riches, while clearing up a significant environmental issue.
The two research labs located within the University of Alberta (U of A) campus have agreed to collaborate with Volt on the use of unique technologies in water management of oilfield brine and the associated removal of lithium.
Advanced Water Research Lab (AWRL) is run by Dr Mohtada Sadrzadeh, while Zeng Lab is overseen by Dr Hongbo Zeng of the U of A’s Chemical and Materials Engineering Department.
Volt president and chief executive officer, Alex Wylie, said the collaborations have been created to take advantage of the nanotechnology and water processing expertise of the two labs to remove contaminants from oilfield brine to be used with the company’s proprietary direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology.
“We are proud to collaborate with AWRL and the Zeng Lab to help address the urgent problem of responsible water management for the energy business today while expanding our access to oilfield brines that offer an economic source of lithium for the clean energy transition of tomorrow.”
“Volt views the collaborations as another component of its advancing efforts to achieve commercial and economic extraction of lithium from produced water. By establishing mutually beneficial relationships with oil and gas companies, Volt gains access to oilfield brines for lithium extraction purposes, while the oil and gas producers can benefit from an economic and ESG-friendly solution to derive value from their produced oilfield water.”
Development of fluid processing technology
Volt’s collaboration with AWRL includes work on the development of fluid processing technology designed to streamline the concentration of lithium chloride (LiCl) to lithium hydroxide monohydrate (LHM).
LHM is a key component of high-capacity lithium-ion batteries.
Volt’s research and development with AWRL will look to create a technology that is specifically tailored to concentrating lithium extracted from oilfield brines.
The Zeng Lab collaboration is focused on efforts to enhance Volt’s lithium extraction process to reduce operating costs associated with its DLE technology.
Volt says any advancements to its technology are expected to be incremental to the successes of a proposed pilot operation and ultimately lead to improved operating efficiencies as the company moves toward commercial development.
Volt is currently looking to establish a permanent pilot that will enable the company to test the technologies in real-time, including those being advanced through the collaborations.
Once established, Volt believes that the permanent pilot will support the accelerated advancement to first stage commercial operations.
Petrolithium a growing target for clean energy developers
Often brought to the surface during oil and gas production and exploration, petrolithium is increasingly being targeted by lithium developers after being considered an obstacle to the petroleum sector for many decades.
In the past petroleum companies were required to manage petroleum brine as a waste product, usually by reinjecting the brine back into the ground for enhanced oil recovery or disposal.
However, with lithium’s growing value and importance to the clean energy future – and the electric vehicle industry in particular – a number of companies have identified petrolithium as offering a significant commercial opportunity.
North American companies are increasingly targeting ancient oil wells to test their potential to produce lithium and other critical minerals.
ASX companies joining the petrolithium rush
Australian juniors such as Anson Resources (ASX: ASN) and Mandrake Resources (ASX: MAN) are amongst those that have joined a new land rush to grab exploration licences in areas with a significant oil and gas production history.
Anson on track at Paradox
Anson’s flagship development is the Paradox Lithium Project in Utah where it has identified a significant opportunity through the study of historic well logs.
Anson plans to re-enter existing oil wells to define lithium brine resources, that would contribute significant additional resources to its global Paradox Mineral Resource base.
Mandrake targeting Utah oil wells
Mandrake Resources is also keenly assessing the results of historic Utah oil wells.
Earlier this year, the company undertook a detailed field inspection of a range of existing oil and gas wells at its 100%-owned Utah Lithium Project to assess their potential to be re-entered for the sampling of brines to determine lithium concentrations.
The Utah Lithium Project is located in the northern Paradox Basin where oil and gas companies have operated for over 100 years.
Mandrake says historical information from exploration and production drilling has provided the company with an abundance of opportunities to assess which historical wells can be re-entered to collect brine for assaying and mineral processing test work.
The company estimates that re-entering an existing well is up to 10 times cheaper than drilling a well, making the re-entry approach a highly attractive exploration option.