CO2-Neutral Lithium From Germany?

12. January 2022 | Market

The Australian lithium company Vulcan Energy Resources and the European chemical group Nobian are planning the first production of climate-neutral lithium in Germany.

The necessary raw materials are to be mined in the saline deep waters of the Upper Rhine Graben. The lithium deposit there is often described as the largest in Europe. Vulcan’s German subsidiary, Karlsruhe-based Vulcan Energie Ressourcen GmbH, is entrusted with the mining. The subsequent processing is to be carried out in a climate-neutral manner in cooperation with the European chemical company Nobian, as reported by the Handelsblatt, among others. The plan is to build a joint refinery in Frankfurt’s Industriepark Höchst, where Nobian already has a site.

The chemical company, headquartered in the Netherlands, says it is the first German producer to supply green hydrogen from chlor-alkali electrolysis. Its expertise will be used to convert lithium chloride extracted in the Upper Rhine Graben into high-purity lithium hydroxide for battery production. “Win-win-win for the environment, regional value creation and the European battery and chemical industry!” writes Vulcan Energy on its German Twitter account about the planned partnership.

World’s First Carbon-Free Lithium Extraction in the Upper Rhine Graben

The Australian start-up aims to drastically reduce the high carbon footprint associated with the production of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. To do so, it says it has developed a patented process for the world’s first carbon-free lithium extraction. As part of its plans, Vulcan Energy recently took over a Pfalzwerke geothermal power plant in Insheim, which generates electricity from the depths of the Upper Rhine Graben. A pilot plant for lithium production is now to be built there. Insheim is only about 135 kilometers from Industriepark Höchst, which allows short distances between mining and processing. Insheim is only about 135 kilometers from Industriepark Höchst, which means short distances between mining and processing.

Vulcan Energy’s future European lithium is already in high demand. Binding supply contracts exist with Renault, Volkswagen and Opel parent company Stellantis, among others. Just a few days ago, Vulcan secured five more exploration licenses in the Upper Rhine Graben to increase production potential and meet growing demand. Several plants are to be built by 2025 to supply lithium for the battery cells of one million e-cars.

Photo: iStock/Petmal

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