Start-Up in California Plans to Capture Lithium, and Market Share

- September 28th, 2011

NY Times reported that Simbol Materials announced that it is beginning commercial operations at a factory in Southern California to capture lithium from existing geothermal energy plants.

NY Times reported that Simbol Materials announced that it is beginning commercial operations at a factory in Southern California to capture lithium from existing geothermal energy plants.

The market news is quoted as saying:

None of the materials that Simbol plans to produce are so-called rare earths, but a study by the American Physical Society in February identified lithium and zinc as likely to be very important in the new energy economy of the future. The society considers them “energy critical elements.”

The company, based in Pleasanton, Calif., will piggyback on an existing geothermal plant that makes electricity by pumping hot water from deep underground and using its heat to make steam to drive a turbine. Then it re-injects the water into the ground. The “water” is actually a very strong brine, composed of about 30 percent dissolved salts, according to Luka Erceg, Simbol’s co-founder and chief executive.

“When we looked into the brine resource, what we found was not only lithium, but manganese, zinc and about half the periodic table of the elements,” said Mr. Erceg, referring to it as “a smorgasbord of product.

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