A pilot-scale lithium extraction plant will be designed, procured and commissioned at the the United Downs Geothermal Test Site. This pilot plant will be fully commissioned by March 2020. The pilot plant will then be used to demonstrate that lithium, a key component of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, can be produced in Cornwall from naturally occurring geothermal waters with a net zero carbon footprint. Domestic production of this critical metal is vital for the UK to deliver its zero carbon and clean growth ambitions.
The granite rocks beneath Cornwall are rich in both lithium and heat. The demonstration lithium extraction pilot plant will trial environmentally-responsible DLE technology to selectively remove lithium compounds from water extracted by the geothermal powerplant from its 5.2km deep borehole (read more about DLE technology here: https://geocubed.co.uk/about ). Once the lithium has been extracted, the water will be reinjected into the rock.
Following the success of work carried out independently by both Cornish Lithium and GEL to date, the co-production of lithium with geothermal heat and power from the same geothermal waters is considered to be an exciting opportunity for Cornwall.