International news within the industry of mining and metal, Jun, 25 2018
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A new method for separating lithium from sea water

The researchers use a MOF, metal-organic framework, a very porous material, to filter molecules. The water molecules are small enough to be filtered through the MOF membrane while the contaminants stick. The MOF membranes are more efficient and can be made more selective than the usual membranes. Photo: Monash University
The researchers use a MOF, metal-organic framework, a very porous material, to filter molecules. The water molecules are small enough to be filtered through the MOF membrane while the contaminants stick. The MOF membranes are more efficient and can be made more selective than the usual membranes. Photo: Monash University
Published by
Markku Björkman - 11 Mar 2018

Lithium ions abound in sea water, so this affects the mining industry currently using inefficient chemical treatments to extract lithium from rock and brine.

Global demand for lithium for use in electronics and batteries is very high. Scientists in the United States and Australia have now developed a method of separating lithium from seawater and making the water drinkable.

With a desalination technique developed by scientists, the water becomes drinkable and lithium is separated from the liquid and can be used in batteries.

The researchers use a MOF (metal-organic framework), a very porous material, to filter molecules. The water molecules are small enough to be filtered through the MOF membrane while the contaminants stick. The MOF membranes are more efficient and can be made more selective than the usual membranes, something that scientists at Monash University in Australia and the University of Texas in the United States are currently developing - a MOF membrane that can distinguish and filter specific ions.

"We can use these discoveries to overcome the challenges of desalination. Instead of relying on current processes that are expensive and energy-intensive, it opens up for a more sustainable and energy-efficient way of removing salt ions from water, "said Huanting Wang, one of the researchers, in a statement from Monash University.

"MOF membranes have the potential for extracting lithium ions in a very effective way, an abundant and readily available resource," said Huanting Wang in the statement.

Source: Monash University & University of Texas