Direct Lithium Extraction Is The EV Industry’s Shale Boom

Over the past few years, the lithium markets exploded as the electrification drive went into overdrive. EV makers like Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) have been scrambling to secure supplies amid rapid EV growth and tight lithium supplies, sending lithium carbonate prices up more than sixfold and spodumene up nearly tenfold in the space of a few years.

But a new lithium extraction technology could change the lithium industry forever and significantly increase the supply of lithium from brine projects, much like shale technology did for oil.

A fleet of direct lithium extraction (DLE) technologies is ready to tap salty brine deposits across North America, Europe, Asia and elsewhere, with the U.S. Geological Survey estimating the technology could unlock 70% of global reserves of the metal. Whereas DLE technologies vary, they are generally comparable to common household water softeners, and aim to extract ~90% of lithium in brine water vs. 50% using conventional ponds.

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