LG Chem ships RO membranes to China’s largest salt lake lithium extraction project

LG Chem has supplied more than 10,000 RO membranes to CITIC Group’s Guoan lithium extraction project in China.

Guoan is China’s largest salt lake lithium extraction project.

TUS-Qingyuan, which manages the lithium extraction project across engineering, procurement and construction, expects to produce 20,000 tons of lithium carbonate annually by using LG Chem’s RO membranes. This is equivalent to manufacturing batteries for nearly half a million EVs. This is the world’s largest lithium extraction project using a filtration device.

RO membrane significantly reduces the amount of energy required for lithium production. To obtain lithium dissolved in salt lakes, water must be evaporated to increase its concentration which had been performed by applying heat to remove water. RO membranes quickly filter out the water molecules without applying heat.

Five out of nine salt lake lithium extraction projects in China have adopted the RO membrane method. LG Chem plans to expand sales of its RO membrane in other salt lake lithium projects in China and South America.

For efficient lithium extraction, LG Chem is collaborating with Korea University to develop RO membranes for next-generation direct lithium extraction (DLE) process that extracts lithium directly from the salt lake which significantly reduces the lead time for concentrating lithium from months to hours. LG Chem is conducting research on identifying RO membrane element that increases lithium’s recovery rate and purity with higher levels of durability. Once the DLE is applied at full-scale, the process becomes more straightforward with higher extraction efficiency while significantly reducing environmental pollution throughout the lithium production process.

“In line with the surge in global demand for lithium, LG Chem will lead the market by combining our global leadership in battery materials and RO membranes,” said Dr Hyung Hoon, Head of LG Water Solutions. “We will continue to offer differentiated values for our customers by developing a sustainable and eco-friendly lithium production process.”