Cornish Lithium is building a pioneering pilot lithium extraction plant in collaboration with Geothermal Engineering Limited (GEL). The pilot plant will use Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology to recover lithium from geothermal waters at GEL’s United Downs Deep Geothermal Project in Cornwall.
The UK Government has invested in the project through the Getting Building Fund. This investment supports a £4m collaboration between GEL and Cornish Lithium.
A pilot-scale lithium extraction plant will be designed, procured and commissioned at the United Downs Deep Geothermal Project site. The pilot plant will then be used to demonstrate that lithium hydroxide, a key component of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, can be produced in Cornwall from naturally occurring geothermal waters with a net zero carbon footprint. Domestic production of this critical metal is vital for the UK to deliver its zero carbon and clean growth ambitions.
The granite rocks beneath Cornwall are rich in lithium and heat. This demonstration lithium extraction pilot plant will trial environmentally-responsible DLE technology to selectively remove lithium compounds from water extracted by the geothermal powerplant from its 5.2km deep borehole. Once the lithium has been extracted, the water will be reinjected into the rock.
Following on from the success of the work carried out independently by both Cornish Lithium and GEL to date, the co-production of lithium with geothermal heat and power from the same geothermal waters is an exciting opportunity for Cornwall.