Standard Lithium commissions North America’s largest DLE equipment

Standard Lithium (TSXV: SLI) announced on Wednesday it has successfully commissioned and validated the performance of the largest continuously operating direct lithium […]
Southern brine plant at the Lanxess project in Arkansas. Credit: Standard Lithium

Standard Lithium (TSXV: SLI) announced on Wednesday it has successfully commissioned and validated the performance of the largest continuously operating direct lithium Extraction (DLE) equipment in North America.

The lithium developer recently installed a commercial-scale DLE column at its demonstration plant near El Dorado, Arkansas. The column is a Li-Pro lithium selective sorption (LSS) unit, supplied by partner and shareholder Koch Technology.

The column, now integrated into the Standard Lithium's existing DLE demonstration plant, is currently extracting lithium from the Smackover Formation brine at an input flow rate of 90 gallons per minute (gpm), the company said.

The Smackover Formation region in southern Arkansas has a longstanding and established brine processing industry, and is home to the company's two signature lithium projects: Phase 1A and South West Arkansas.

During a representative two-week period in April 2024, the Li-Pro DLE process at Standard's demo plant achieved an average lithium recovery (i.e. after loading and elution) of 97.3% from the 90 gpm incoming brine flow, for 208 mg/L of contained lithium on average.

During the same period, the DLE process rejected, on average, over 99% of the key contaminants (sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium) from the brine (i.e. less than 1% of those contaminants made it through the DLE step into the first lithium chloride solution); and over 95% of boron was rejected.

This, to the company's knowledge, makes it the largest DLE installation on the continent, and the only example of commercial-scale DLE column that's currently in operation.

The most recent full-size commercial scale Li-Pro LSS column has only completed over 86 operational cycles. By comparison, the Li-Pro LSS technology has completed over 8,500 operational cycles at Standard's demo plant.

As of the end of March 2024, the facility had processed over 17 million gallons (64.5 million litres) of Smackover brine, produced directly from the formation and reinjected continuously back into the same formation.

Importantly, as noted by Standard Lithium’s COO Dr. Andy Robinson, the column currently operating at the demo plant is identical to those that will be used in the commercial application, both in terms of the size, design and construction of the column, as well as the sorbent media being used inside.

Since May 2020, Standard's demo plant has produced many millions of gallons of ‘raw’ lithium chloride eluate from several generations of DLE technology development. Almost all of that solution has been returned to the formation through LANXESS’ existing tail brine reinjection infrastructure.

Additionally, over the last four years, approximately 330,000 gallons (1.25 million litres) of concentrated and/or purified lithium chloride solution have been produced for further process testing or for conversion into battery-quality lithium carbonate or hydroxide.

According to the company, the performance of this commercial-scale DLE column is being used to validate the design assumptions for the Phase 1A project, and it also underpins the process design work underway for the South West Arkansas project.

Validation of performance and successful operation of this column, said Dr. Robinson, represents "a significant derisking step on our way to becoming the next major sustainable lithium producer in North America.”

Shares of Standard Lithium gained 2.0% at $1.51 by 9:45 a.m. EDT following the announcement. The stock traded between $1.45 and $6.38 over the past 52 weeks. Its market capitalization was at $268 million.


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