EnergyX, ProfMOF promote technology making lithium production more cost-effective

MOFs’ crystalline structures can target and extract lithium or other salt species from brine, such as that underneath Bolivia’s Uyuni salt flat, pictured here. (Image by Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons).

US-based Energy Exploration Technologies, known as EnergyX, and Norway’s ProfMOF announced this week that they are partnering to promote the use of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), a relatively new class of nanotechnology materials suitable in the development of projects involving renewable energy and large scale lithium-ion production and battery storage.

EnergyX uses metal-organic frameworks in its lithium-ion transport and separation technology in a bid to reduce the environmental impact of lithium mining. In a media statement, the company’s CEO, Teague Egan, said he believes they are the key to making lithium more cost-effective and abundant.

Metal-organic frameworks have a crystalline structure that can target and extract lithium or other salt species from brine

In detail, MOFs are structures that can separate, transport and isolate specific elements on the ionic level. The material itself is very porous and its chemical properties make it ideal to embed in membranes for very cost-effective separation processes. 

The science behind these elements involves a dense and malleable material made up of metal nodes such as zirconium or titanium, connected by organic carboxylic ligands, all in a crystalline structure that can target and extract lithium or other salt species from brine.

“Metal-organic frameworks are a miracle material that will play a tremendous role in the energy transition,” Egan said. “MOFs have properties that we have never seen before, and EnergyX is partnering with the MOF world leaders to harness these powers. By creating more lithium and energy storage, thus reducing the intermittency of renewable power, we can have a great impact.” 

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