World-first study demonstrates ultra-fast, biologically-inspired lithium extraction technique

A study led by Monash University has demonstrated a world-first method to technique to extract lithium from brine.


The technique is inspired by the precise filtration used by a living cell. It uses tailored Metal-Organic Framework (MOF) channels which act like “biological ion channels embedded within a cell membrane.”

According to a release from Monash, the technique is capable of a 90 per cent recovery rate of lithium, and the membranes developed are highly tuned to filter lithium in an “ultra-fast, one-directional and highly selective” fashion.


“Based on this new research, we could one day have the capability to produce simple filters that will take hours to extract lithium from brine, rather than several months to years,” said Professor Huanting Wang, co-lead research author and Professor of Chemical Engineering at Monash University. 


“Preliminary studies have shown that this technology has a lithium recovery rate of approximately 90 percent – a substantial improvement on 30 percent recovery rate achieved through the current solar evaporation process.”


A worldwide patent application was filed last year. The technique will be licensed exclusively to EnergyX.


Most Australian lithium is extracted from spodumene. “The new technique could spur on the investigation of Australia’s salt lakes for potential lithium production options,” speculates the release.

The team’s just-published research, in Nature Materials, can be read


Picture: A salt lake in China (by Yu Nakamura)


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