Occidental Petroleum and BHE Renewables have announced a joint venture (JV) to harness TerraLithium’s Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology for sustainable lithium production.

The collaboration aims to utilise this patented technology of TerraLithium, an Occidental unit, to extract high-purity lithium compounds from geothermal brine.

BHE Renewables, which operates ten geothermal power plants in California’s Imperial Valley, processes 50,000gal of lithium-rich brine per minute. This brine is used to produce 345MW of clean energy.

The JV’s project at BHE Renewables’ Imperial Valley geothermal facility will demonstrate the feasibility of TerraLithium’s DLE technology in an environmentally safe manner.

Upon successful demonstration, BHE Renewables, which is part of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, intends to construct and operate commercial lithium production facilities within the Imperial Valley.

BHE Renewables president and CEO Alicia Knapp said: “This JV with TerraLithium represents a significant advancement in BHE Renewables’ commitment to pursuing commercial lithium production that is environmentally safe, commercially viable and leads to good outcomes for the Imperial Valley community.

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“We are excited to be working with Occidental on this incredible opportunity to make the Imperial Valley a global leader in lithium production.”   

Additionally, the JV looks to licence TerraLithium’s DLE technology and develop commercial lithium production sites beyond the Imperial Valley.

Lithium is essential for manufacturing batteries used in electric vehicles, consumer electronics, and energy grid storage.

It also has industrial applications in producing glass, ceramics, and pharmaceuticals.

The International Renewable Energy Agency forecasts a tenfold growth in battery lithium demand from 2020 to 2030, aligning with the anticipated rise in battery demand.

Occidental US Onshore Resources and Carbon Management, Operations president Richard Jackson said: “By leveraging Occidental’s expertise in managing and processing brine in our oil and gas and chemicals businesses, combined with BHE Renewables’ deep knowledge in geothermal operations, we are uniquely positioned to advance a more sustainable form of lithium production.

“We look forward to working with BHE Renewables to demonstrate how DLE technology can produce a critical mineral that society needs to further net-zero goals.”