The UK government announced plans to invest, through its Getting Building Fund, in the construction of Europe’s first geothermal lithium recovery pilot plant at a location near Redruth, Cornwall.
The public funds will support a £4-million collaboration between Geothermal Engineering (GEL) and Cornish Lithium at GEL’s deep geothermal project, which aims to demonstrate that lithium can be produced from geothermal waters with a net-zero carbon footprint.
According to Cornish Lithium, the pilot plant will trial environmentally-responsible Direct Lithium Extraction technology, and its suitability to extract lithium from Cornish geothermal waters.
“The optimal DLE technology for Cornish waters is currently being selected, however, the processes being considered utilise technologies such as nanofiltration to selectively remove lithium compounds from the water, rather than relying on evaporation and other less environmentally friendly methods,” the company said in a media statement. “Once the lithium has been extracted, the waters will be returned to depth via injection boreholes.”
Recent tests run by Cornish Lithium and GEL have demonstrated that the geothermal and the lithium resources lying beneath granite rocks in Cornwall are potentially commercially viable, given recent advances in extraction technologies.
“We have made significant strides in establishing the UK’s first deep geothermal power plant. The possibility of developing future sites that include co-production of lithium extraction is very exciting and a great opportunity for both companies and Cornwall as a whole,” Ryan Law, managing director of Geothermal Engineering, said in the press brief.
“We believe Cornwall’s untapped natural resources are significant, and are delighted to be partnering with Cornish Lithium to maximise the synergies between the two technologies in order to unlock this potential.”
The new capital injection comes in addition to the £826,000 that Cornish Lithium recently raised from its shareholders to expand ongoing drilling work.