The Canadian company that pioneered a new lithium production process in south Arkansas is now testing a novel method of capturing carbon from a natural gas processing site near Magnolia.
The idea is to further Standard Lithium Ltd.’s environmentally benign approach to building a different kind of lithium-battery materials industry in the state. The goal is to “build on a science-based strategy for sustainable development and continuous improvement at its Arkansas lithium projects,” the company said in a news release.
Standard, of Vancouver, British Columbia, partnered with bromine producer Lanxess to build a direct lithium extraction facility that began producing lithium battery raw materials on a test scale in May 2020. The process uses Lanxess’ existing infrastructure for pumping up underground brine and stripping valuable elements from it.
Standard will be applying a similar teamwork strategy at the Dorcheat-Macedonia gas-condensate and oilfield in Columbia County, about six miles from Magnolia.
Standard will collaborate with the owner of the new technology, Aqualung Carbon Capture, and the companies will install a pilot plant at a natural gas processing site owned and operated by Mission Creek Resources LLC of The Woodlands, Texas.
Aqualung is a Norwegian company affiliated with Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. Construction of the pilot plant is expected to start by the end of this year. Pending permitting and other variables, installation is expected to be complete in the first quarter of next year.
Standard has been moving toward its long-term objective of building a lithium extraction and refinement facility in south Arkansas large enough to supply battery makers on an industrial scale. Standard CEO Robert Mintak envisioned the facility in remarks to Arkansas Business as something as large as a major water treatment plant.
After first proving its direct extraction process in El Dorado, Standard attached a pilot refinement plant at the Lanxess site to crystallize the extracted lithium chloride slurry into better-than-battery quality lithium carbonate through another new and proprietary process.
With the new project near Magnolia, Standard “aims to make the Gulf Coast region an industry-leading producer of sustainable lithium chemicals,” the news release said.
“We are very pleased to be working in partnership with Aqualung and Mission Creek on this exciting project,” Standard President and COO Andy Robinson said in a statement. “The future of the lithium industry rests on being able to produce sustainable battery-quality chemicals with the lowest carbon footprint.”
The Dorcheat Macedonia project will take a slipstream of flue gas from Mission Creek’s facility and process it through the Aqualung pilot unit. Standard Lithium will use the resulting concentrated carbon dioxide stream in research and development, particularly investigating possibilities for using Arkansas-sourced CO2 for optimizing its process and reagent economics. The push for establishing a key battery metal producer in Arkansas aligns with U.S. government goals for a secure domestic supply chain for lithium and other essential elements, as well as a recent White House “Carbon Capture, Utilization and Sequestration” announcement supporting efforts to develop and deploy carbon capture technologies in industry.
Aqualung is the sole license owner of the technology to be used in Columbia County. The technology was developed by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in 20 years of research in membrane separation of gasses.
“The technology is based on a membrane system that selectively extracts CO2 from a wide range of CO2 sources emitted by hydrocarbon-burning energy sources,” the release said. “It produces a high-purity CO2 gas stream that can either be sequestered or reused. The technology has been successfully piloted in Europe, where it has been shown to effectively extract CO2 from carbon gas streams.”