Vulcans Lithiumextraktionsoptimierungsanlage (LEOP). Foto: Vulcan Energy

Upper Rhine Graben: Vulcan starts Europe’s first green lithium chloride production

Vulcan has started production of green, climate-neutral lithium chloride at its lithium extraction optimization plant (LEOP) in Landau. This is the first lithium to be produced entirely in Europe. By using Direct Lithium Extraction by Adsorption (A-DLE), the company was able to achieve an efficiency of over 90% (up to 95%) in the extraction of lithium from geothermal brine in the LEOP. A result that has already been achieved in Vulcan’s laboratories and pilot plants in Insheim, where the extraction process was successfully tested over three years and more than 10,000 hours.

With an investment by the company of more than 40 million euros, the LEOP is a plant that is primarily used to optimize operational processes, carry out product quality tests and train and prepare the production team for the operation of the commercial plant. Vulcan has now proven that the sustainable method of Direct Lithium Extraction by Adsorption (A-DLE), which currently accounts for 10% of global lithium production, can also be successfully carried out using geothermal brine from the Upper Rhine Graben.

Vulcan is aiming for a multi-phase approach to implementing its ZERO CARBON LITHIUM project. As part of the first project phase of commercial production, Vulcan will produce enough lithium for around 500,000 electric vehicles per year. The Upper Rhine Graben contains the largest lithium deposits in Europe and is also a source of renewable heat. Vulcan will use both resources to decarbonize lithium production for electric car batteries in Europe using renewable geothermal energy.

In the next production step, the lithium chloride is processed into battery-ready lithium hydroxide monohydrate (LHM). This will happen in the Central Lithium Electrolysis Optimization Plant (CLEOP), which is currently being completed in the industrial park in Frankfurt-Höchst. After expected commissioning this summer, the CLEOP will produce the first LHM to be produced entirely in Europe. The LEOP and CLEOP optimization plants are the forerunners of the planned commercial plants, which will have a production capacity of 24,000 tons of LHM per year.

“The start of production of the LEOP marks a significant milestone in the establishment of a domestic value chain to supply the European battery industry with lithium. Our facility is equipped with the most modern and leading technology to demonstrate the efficiency of our A-DLE process and its environmental benefits. I am pleased to see that we have achieved the expected extraction efficiency in the LEOP and I would especially like to thank our on-site team who made this possible. After yesterday’s topping-out ceremony of the CLEOP in Frankfurt-Höchst, we will soon provide further updates on the development of the first phase of our ZERO CARBON LITHIUM project,” said Cris Moreno, Managing Director & CEO of Vulcan.

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