Lithium is becoming an essential metal in the global energy economy due to its applications in electric car batteries; however, its recovery from land resources is geographically limited and not environmentally friendly. Although lithium can be extracted from seawater, the so far proposed processes have limited efficiency.
To increase the degree of lithium recovery from seawater (or any other saline streams such as for example saltworks’ bittern) and to make the process continuous and selective, novel flow-electrodes (recirculated in a loop arrangement between cathode and anode) and lithium-selective membranes (Li-SMs) are being developed by electrospinning. The geometry of such flow-electrode capacitive deionisation (FCDI) device with integrated Li-SMs will be optimised by computational fluid dynamics (CFD) studies and the first-ever prototype will be constructed using 3D printing.
Experimentation studies are underway, with funds from Horizon 2020 and FCT-MCTES IC&DT.