HGA Earns National Engineering Award for Lithium Pilot Plant

HGA’s engineering and design team collaborated with Standard Lithium and was named a national honor finalist in the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) prestigious Engineering Excellence Awards for 2021. The Smackover, Arkansas, lithium extraction pilot project won an Honor Award in the association’s overall category.

The cutting-edge lithium extraction plant selectively extracts lithium ions from tail brine that is a by-product of existing bromine production facilities that is obtained from deep drilling wells, and processes into battery-grade lithium carbonate (LCE). The Standard Lithium and LANXESS plant represents the new, innovative process to extract high-purity lithium and reduce the production time from over a year to days.

Globally, when compared to the conventional methods for recovering lithium the system provides many benefits. The environmentally friendly LiSTR (Lithium Stirred Tank Reactor) efficiently captures > 90% of the lithium in a matter of hours, not as long as a year from evaporation ponds, thus reducing recovery time. The next-generation crystallization process improves final product purity with AI technology to process the raw lithium material into commercial-grade lithium carbonate crystals.

“HGA is proud to play an important role in the innovation of the Lithium Stirred Tank Reactor pilot plant,” said Sam Costanza, Vice President of Engineering. “As the demand for battery-grade lithium is projected to grow, the Standard Lithium’s pilot plant is a step toward efficiently producing lithium in a more sustainable approach. We look forward to working with Standard Lithium and LANXESS to optimize the design of the full-scale production plant.”

The pilot plant is one of four lithium from brine facilities of its kind in the U.S. The plant can extract and process over 20,900 tonnes of battery-grade Lithium Carbonate (LCE) annually from LANXESS’s 150,000-acre brine field in South Arkansas. Standard Lithium and HGA successfully commissioned the LiSTR System in late May 2020 and it is now operating on a 24/7 basis. Standard Lithium and HGA commenced with commissioning efforts on the Industrial-Scale Battery-Quality Lithium Carbonate Crystallization (SiFT) System in mid-June 2020.

Known as the “Academy Awards” of the engineering industry, the 2021 ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards celebrated the year’s most stellar engineering achievements. Of the 173 entries, twenty of these are named Honor Award winners, and 16 are named Grand Award Winners. The ACEC competition is based on such elements as innovation, new applications of technology, enhanced public awareness, and future value to the engineering profession.