Oilfield services firm Schlumberger’s New Energy division said on Thursday it would launch a lithium extraction plant in Nevada to cash in on the surging demand for the battery metal from electric vehicle makers and technology companies.
The division said it has invested more than $15 million in the direct lithium extraction process and expects the development and operation of the Nevada plant to require similar funding.
Schlumberger New Energy said it would extract lithium from brine, which occurs naturally around its proposed project site at Clayton Valley in Nevada, in a way that’s more efficient than the industry standard of using evaporation ponds.
This method is also used by privately held Lilac Solutions and Standard Lithium Ltd, which count as competitors for Schlumberger’s unit in the direct lithium extraction space.
Demand for battery-grade lithium is projected to grow exponentially, driven by growth in the electric vehicle market, and efficient production of the metal has become an important topic for regions, industries, and technology companies.
Earlier this year, top lithium producer Albemarle Corp said it would double production at its facility in Silver Peak, Nevada, while the U.S. Bureau of Land Management gave final approval to Lithium Americas Corp’s Thacker Pass lithium mine in northern Nevada.
Schlumberger New Energy said the commissioning of its Nevada facility will begin following the receipt of all necessary permits, with NeoLith Energy intending to begin operations before the end of 2021.