EnergyX’s direct lithium extraction technology gets $20m boost

EnergyX CEO Teague Egan working on one of the pilot plants. (Image courtesy of EnergyX).

Energy Exploration Technologies has secured $20 million in financing to continue developing its direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology. 

Most of the funding was provided by a range of institutional investors and a smaller portion came from the company’s equity crowd-investment. According to EnergyX, this funding makes it the highest-valued direct lithium extraction technology company on the market.

The US-based firm owns an exclusive, worldwide license to commercialize a process that uses an advanced nanomaterial filtering membrane called a metal-organic framework (MOF), which is precisely tuned, in both size and chemistry, to filter lithium molecules in an ultra-fast, one-directional and highly selective manner.

The direct lithium extraction technology uses a metal-organic framework that is precisely tuned, in both size and chemistry, to filter lithium molecules

Studies have reported that besides speeding up the process of extracting lithium from salt brines, the MOF provides recovery rates of ~90%, which puts it above the 30% recovery rate obtained when brine from underground deposits is pumped to the surface and moved through a series of massive evaporation ponds with chemical treatments added.

EnergyX CEO Teague Egan told MINING.COM that these technical targets have been confirmed in the lab over the past 12 months and that the company has built three pilot plants that are being tested with real-world lithium brine from five customers around the world. 

One of those clients is Orocobre (ASX: ORE), with whom EnergyX signed a pilot partnership in 2020 to improve processes at its Olaroz operation, located in northern Argentina, on the Salar de Olaroz brine resource. 

In April, Orocobre announced a $3 billion merger with Galaxy Resources to create a lithium giant, the third-largest producer in the world. In line with this merger, EnergyX will deploy its pilot plants on Orocobre’s projects over the summer for longer duration testing.

 “There is a major oncoming shift across the entire battery material supply chain including mining and materials, anode/cathode, and cell assembly, and EnergyX plans to be at the epicentre for decades to come,” Egan said.