In early 2019 HGA began working with Standard Lithium and Lanxess on a first-of-its-kind pilot plant to extract and process battery-grade lithium carbonate (LCE) from brine that is obtained from deep wells. That plant was commissioned and started up in May of 2020. In early February 2021, the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Louisiana chapter bestowed HGA’s Standard Lithium pilot plant project its 2020 Grand Award for engineering projects. The project is now eligible to compete in the National Engineering Excellence Awards competition.
“HGA is proud to be a part of this exciting project, said Sam Costanza, Vice President of Engineering. “We are confident Standard Lithium’s efforts in South Arkansas will play a pivotal role in reducing North America’s overall dependence on foreign lithium resources. We look forward to working with Standard Lithium and Lanxess to finish operations at the pilot plant and move forward with full-scale commercial operations.”
The first-of-its-kind pilot 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.
HGA’s engineering and design team collaborated with Standard Lithium to install their pilot plant that features a scalable propriety direct lithium extraction (LiSTR) process (no evaporation ponds) that by early assessments will capture > 90% of the lithium in a matter of hours (not months or years) and a next-generation crystallization process that will use AI technology to process the raw lithium material from direct extraction process into commercial-grade lithium carbonate crystals.
The successful operation of the technology at pre-commercial continuous scale has directly extracted lithium from brine in Arkansas and produced a purified, concentrated intermediate product (LiCl solution) which has been converted to better than battery quality lithium carbonate final product. LiSTR (an acronym for Lithium Stirred Tank Reactor) is an environmentally-friendly technology that selectively extracts lithium ions from tail brine that is a by-product of existing bromine production facilities run by LANXESS in south Arkansas. When compared to the conventional methods for recovering lithium from brine, the LiSTR process provides many benefits:
• Vastly increased recovery time – from as long as a year to several hours
• Significant efficiency gains – as 90% recovery versus 40-60%
• Improved final product purity
• Unlocking unconventional resources like Arkansas Smackover Brines
This year’s winners will be celebrated at the ACEC Louisiana’s Engineering Excellence Awards Banquet, scheduled for March 25, 2021, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The national awards banquet will be held virtually on June 17, 2021.
Click here to see the 2020 award winners.