Occidental and BHE Renewables form joint venture to extract lithium

In a groundbreaking move, Occidental and BHE Renewables, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, have announced a joint venture to deploy TerraLithium’s patented Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology.

Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology

In a groundbreaking move, Occidental and BHE Renewables, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, have announced a joint venture to deploy TerraLithium’s patented Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology. This collaboration aims to extract and commercially produce high-purity lithium compounds from geothermal brine, promising a sustainable and efficient supply of this critical mineral.

Innovative Extraction Technology

TerraLithium, a wholly owned subsidiary of Occidental, has developed advanced DLE technologies capable of processing any lithium-containing brine into a high-purity, responsibly sourced lithium supply. BHE Renewables, known for operating 10 geothermal power plants in California’s Imperial Valley, processes 50,000 gallons of lithium-rich brine per minute, producing 345 MW of clean energy.

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Project Launch and Vision

The joint venture has initiated a project at BHE Renewables’ Imperial Valley geothermal facility to demonstrate the feasibility of TerraLithium’s DLE technology. This project aims to produce lithium in an environmentally safe manner, aligning with the goals of both companies.

“This joint venture 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,” stated Alicia Knapp, President and CEO of BHE Renewables. “We are excited to be working with Occidental on this incredible opportunity to make the Imperial Valley a global leader in lithium production.”

Future Plans and Market Impact

Upon successful demonstration, BHE Renewables plans to build, own, and operate commercial lithium production facilities in California’s Imperial Valley. The joint venture also intends to license the technology and develop commercial lithium production facilities beyond the Imperial Valley.

“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,” added Richard Jackson, President of US Onshore Resources and Carbon Management, Operations at Occidental. “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.”

Importance of Lithium and Growing Demand

Lithium is essential for the production of batteries used in electric vehicles, consumer electronics, and energy grid storage. It also has industrial applications in the manufacture of glass, ceramics, and pharmaceuticals. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, the demand for battery-grade lithium is expected to increase tenfold between 2020 and 2030.

“Creating a secure, reliable and domestic supply of high-purity lithium products to help meet growing global lithium demand is essential for the energy transition,” said Jeff Alvarez, President and General Manager of TerraLithium. “The partnership with BHE Renewables will enable the joint venture to accelerate the development of our Direct Lithium Extraction and associated technologies and advance them toward commercial lithium production.”

This joint venture between Occidental and BHE Renewables marks a significant step forward in sustainable lithium production. By combining their expertise and resources, the companies aim to meet the increasing global demand for lithium while ensuring environmental safety and economic benefits for local communities. This initiative not only strengthens the supply chain for critical minerals but also positions the Imperial Valley as a leader in the global lithium market.

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