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Lithium recovery from hydraulic fracturing flowback and produced water using a selective ion exchange sorbent

DOI: 10.1016/j.cej.2021.130713 DOI Help

Authors: Adam Seip (University of Alberta) , Salman Safari (University of Alberta) , David M. Pickup (University of Kent) , Alan V. Chadwick (University of Kent) , Silvia Ramos (University of Kent) , Carmen A. Velasco (University of New Mexico; Universidad Central del Ecuador) , José M. Cerrato (University of New Mexico) , Daniel S. Alessi (University of Alberta)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: Chemical Engineering Journal , VOL 42

State: Published (Approved)
Published: June 2021
Diamond Proposal Number(s): 14239

Abstract: Increased demand for lithium products for use in lithium-ion batteries has led to a search for new lithium resources in recent years to meet projected future consumption. One potential lithium resource is low lithium bearing brines that are discharged from hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells as flowback and produced water (FPW). In this way, hydraulic fracturing presents an opportunity to turn what is normally considered wastewater into a lithium resource. In this research, two manganese-based lithium-selective adsorbents were prepared using a co-precipitation method and were employed for lithium recovery from FPW. At optimized conditions, lithium uptake reached 18 mg g−1, with a > 80% lithium recovery within 30 minutes. The recovered lithium was isolated and concentrated to 15 mM in an acidic final product. The degree of sorbent loss during acid desorption of lithium was significantly higher for sorbents used in the FPW as compared to recovery from a synthetic lithium-bearing brine (4.5% versus 0.8%). Thus, we propose that organic molecules present in the FPW reduce manganese in the sorbent structure during lithium sorption, leading to increased sorbent loss through reductive dissolution. Systematic characterization including wet chemical manganese valence measurements, along with EXAFS, XPS, and TEM-EELS show that exposure to FPW causes tetravalent manganese in the bulk sorbent structure to be reduced during lithium sorption, and subsequently dissolves during acid desorption. Partial removal of these organic molecules by nanofiltration leads to decreased sorbent dissolution in acid. In this way, we show that dissolved organic molecules represent a critical control on the reductive dissolution of manganese-based lithium ion exchange sorbents. This research provides some promising results on the use of manganese-based lithium sorbents in FPW.

Diamond Keywords: Batteries; Lithium-ion

Subject Areas: Chemistry, Engineering

Instruments: B18-Core EXAFS

Added On: 15/06/2021 11:44

Discipline Tags:

Chemistry Chemical Engineering Engineering & Technology Inorganic Chemistry

Technical Tags:

Spectroscopy X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS)