Getting More Lithium, Sustainably — Summit Nanotech

The electric vehicle revolution relies on many elements, but perhaps none other than lithium. We need lithium for every type of EV battery for every type of vehicle that needs to be electrified. The challenge we’ve been talking about over the past few years is that it takes many years to build a lithium mining facility, and getting the right investments years or a decade in advance is a big struggle.

One company looking to help here is Summit Nanotech. The startup also aims to extract lithium in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way. I recently spoke to Summit Nanotech CEO and Founder Amanda Hall about what her company is doing to help.

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“We have developed a sustainable lithium extraction process. And sustainable can mean many things to many people, but in particular we have focused on low water consumption, low energy consumption and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions as well as reducing the production of waste and the use of reagents. So we kind of attack the sustainability aspect of an extraction process from a lot of different angles. We are deploying technology in brine space. Lithium mining occurs in hard rock or brine. We don’t do hard rock mining; we work with brine miners in South America. The technology can be used to extract lithium from brine, which is salt water. And we also improve the yield, so we get twice the yield compared to conventional processes.

“So the technology is working very well. This is the piloting right now in Chile. We have 6 pilot partners and it’s going pretty well.

“I’m a geophysicist, so I see the problem of mining metals from batteries as something we need to approach sensitively, as stewards of the Earth and as humans who want a better future. We don’t We can’t just start digging the ground and making batteries without seriously thinking about doing it sustainably and well, and so that’s what our company is focused on.

In South America, they are creating a lithium carbonate product with partners in Chile and Argentina. This is up to the cathode producers. In North America, the company creates a lithium hydroxide product from a clay raw material.

This is from about 3 minutes into the 27 minute interview. I asked Amanda to tell us a bit more about who she is and how she got into this business as well as some recent fundraising from very notable investors. And I asked him about his overview of the global lithium market. For one thing, she sold her house to start the business. For more on all of this, listen to the full episode.

As a latest teaser, Summit Nanotech claims that its Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology has the potential to reduce production time from 18 months to 1 day! Again, listen to the episode to find out more.


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