Pre-treatment of flowback and produced water brines prior to direct lithium extraction

  • Author / Creator
    Braun, Bennett L.
  • Lithium is crucial for battery production and is utilized in electric vehicles and portable
    electronics. Among alternative sources of lithium is flowback and produced water (FPW) brines,
    which can be recovered utilizing ion-exchange with sorbents such as lithium manganese oxide
    spinels. Among challenges to the commercialization of Mn(IV) sorbents is sorbent degradation
    due to dissolved organic compounds (DOC) in FPW, which include (1) reductive dissolution of
    the Mn(IV) oxide and the loss of Mn(IV) into Mn(II/III) and (2) the physical coating of sorbents
    with DOC, inhibiting lithiation or protonation of the sorbent. Lithium-bearing FPW brines
    require pre-treatment before entering the ion-exchange process for Li-extraction with a highly
    Li-selective Mn(IV) oxide sorbent. Combined aeration and filtration is one approach to remove
    DOC to prevent manganese loss from or coating of the sorbent, ultimately improving the Liextraction performance. In this study, we used FPW samples that contained total dissolved solids
    (TDS) that exceed 167,000 ppm and lithium concentrations that range from 43-50 ppm. Head-to-head lithium extractions with aerated and untreated FPW samples were conducted to observe the
    effect of pre-treatment on lithium extraction performance and sorbent cyclability. In the batch
    testing, the treated samples generally yielded higher lithium uptake values compared to the
    untreated samples. Improved lithium uptake performance is attributed to removing organics that
    coat the sorbent and inhibit lithiation during direct lithium extraction (DLE). The manganese loss
    displayed no consistent trend and the untreated samples yielded lower manganese loss compared
    to the treated samples. Further research should be completed on the pre-treatment aspects of
    FPW to limit manganese loss in order to improve the DLE process.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2024
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.