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Panasonic joins US high-speed lithium mining project

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Panasonic has joined a high-speed lithium production project led by Schlumberger, the largest oilfield services company.

The company has already launched a pilot plant to extract lithium from underground lithium brines in the US state of Nevada, and Panasonic is testing samples of the resulting lithium to determine if it is suitable for electric vehicle batteries. The Japanese company will also advise Schlumberger on what can be improved in the production process.

The industry standard for lithium recovery is the cleaning of mineral ore deposits or the drying of brine in evaporation ponds. In the latter case, the brine comes from underground salt lakes and the lithium concentrate is the result of evaporation in the sun. However, lithium production using evaporation ponds usually takes more than a year. In addition, many impurities remain in lithium. The technology being tested by Schlumberger is the direct extraction of lithium from brine and can reduce the production time of lithium to several weeks.

Lithium is the main component in electric vehicle batteries. As the automotive industry’s transition to electric vehicles accelerates, the demand for it grows. According to analysts, a shortage of lithium and other minerals used to make batteries could be an obstacle to increasing the number of electric vehicles on the world’s roads.

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