Membrane-based technologies for lithium recovery from water resources

The research article 'Membrane-based technologies for lithium recovery from water lithium resources: A review' has been published in Elsevier's Journal of Membrane Science (Volume 591, 1 December 2019, 117317).


Lithium production has become increasingly critical for sustainable development. The extraction of lithium from aqueous sources, particularly salt-lake brine, has become a trend in the lithium recovery industry because of its low cost and abundant reserves. Among various technologies applied for lithium recovery, membrane processes driven by pressure, electrical field, and thermal gradient have received considerable attention in the past few decades because of their high energy efficiency and low environmental impact.

This paper presents a comprehensive review of the advantages and challenges of the current membrane-based technologies applied to the recovery of a water lithium resource. Here, we highlight that the combination of membrane processes (e.g. nanofiltration, selective electrodialysis, and membrane distillation crystallization) with a conventional lithium precipitation process will lead to higher performance efficiency and lower cost. Although the membrane-based separation technology is technically feasible, it is restricted by its high capital and operating costs. Therefore, the future development of membrane-based technologies should include efforts for the improvement of the separation efficiency, material stability, and some engineering aspects such as membrane fouling control, module design, and process optimisation.

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