In the past, we have discussed the paradox of clean electric vehicles and the dirty lithium mining business. Lithium extraction has severe environmental consequences making the business of electric vehicles not as clean as it could be
Now, climate-conscious engineers in Silicon Valley are seeking a new and more sustainable way to extract the ingredient that is so key to developing electric vehicle batteries. Lilac Solutions, a lithium extraction technology company, announced this week the first close of a $150 million Series B financing for a new technology that both speeds up lithium recovery and makes it more eco-friendly.
“Electric vehicles are a low-carbon success story, but the lithium raw materials needed for batteries have become a serious bottleneck,” said in a statement Dave Snydacker, CEO of Lilac Solutions. “The lithium industry has been plagued by technical and environmental problems that have put the energy transition in jeopardy. Lilac’s technology solves these problems and will finally enable lithium production at a scale demanded for the energy transition.”
Lilac Solutions’ new technology dramatically lowers the amount of land and freshwater needed to extract lithium from continental brines and its investors say the product is 10,000x faster than the competition.
One key aspect of the new technology is that it allows brine to be returned back underground following lithium recovery which effectively reduces negative environmental impact compared to existing lithium production methods based on evaporation ponds.
According to CNBC, Lilac Solutions CEO and founder Dave Snydacker said the new technology can extract as much lithium from a one-acre sized system as the traditional method would get from a 10,000-acre facility with an evaporation pond.
The technology could not come at a better time as U.S. President Joe Biden has set ambitious goals for half of all new passenger vehicle sales in the U.S. to be electric by 2030.