A tumultuous year it was for all, on so many fronts.
It seems hard to believe that a year as the Division of Environmental Geosciences president is coming to a close. I have been blessed to work with many talented, engaged individuals with substantial knowledge to draw from. To each and every one of you, I want to express my gratitude and appreciation.
Although many opportunities to meet and network with other geoscientists were thwarted by the COVID-19 global calamity, professionals across the Division and AAPG showed tremendous resilience, going virtual quickly and keeping our communications as effective as possible. I am grateful to know that Don Clarke, DEG president-elect 2020-21 and his new leadership team will be there to continue the Division’s current objectives while initiating their own.
On a brighter note, on May 12, the DEG leadership unanimously endorsed EnergySource Minerals in San Diego to receive a DEG Corporate Award for their efforts to harness for lithium extraction the brine flow supplying the John L. Featherstone geothermal power plant in the Salton Sea region.
EnergySource Chief Operating Officer Derek Benson shared with us that a proprietary process called “Integrated Lithium Adsorption Desorption,” or “ILiAD,” was demonstrated to be the key that unlocks Salton Sea lithium development. Their facility declared commercial operations in March 2012. From what we understand, they have succeeded in producing battery-grade lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide utilizing the brine flow as it exits the power generation.
From my understanding, this technology will be deployable globally on salar brines, geothermal brines and petro-brine resources, providing significant improvements to current industry practices, with a smaller environmental and cost footprint compared to competing lithium separation techniques. It also has the added benefit of being coupled to and significantly reducing the size of almost any downstream process and is scalable allowing deployment in modular phases.
To add icing on the cake, the technique is significantly more efficient than a fixed bed adsorption approach, using 80-percent less adsorbent, 75-percent less water.
From my perspective, EnergySource Minerals project is an example of a commercial effort that is in line with what the DEG aspires to encourage. One can only hope that further success in this domain of geology and geoengineering will bring supply security to the EV sector and further enhance complementary energy sources that a vibrant and responsive modern society requires to thrive for many generations to come.
On that note, I wish you all great success in all of your geoscientific efforts within the DEG and beyond, as discoveries on all fronts benefit us all in the long run.