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Lithium extraction from brine with ion exchange resin and ferric phosphate Fukuda, Hiroki


Lithium is an essential metal for our society. Notably, increasing energy storage system will necessitate much more lithium in the future. This study focused on brine deposit while lithium exists in hard rocks as well. Conventionally, solar evaporation has been used to concentrate lithium from brine, but it takes more than one year. Thus, a more rapid process is desired for the accelerating demand. Here, two types of adsorbent, ion exchange (IX) resin and heterosite ferric phosphate (FP), were studied in order to extract lithium selectively from brine rapidly. First, more than thirty IX resins were tested in lithium chloride solution. Out of the thirty, sulfonate, iminodiacetate and aminomethylphosphonate resins succeeded in extracting lithium with the value of 16.3–32.9 mg-Li/g. However, no resins could adsorb lithium from a mixed brine solution which contains other interfering cations like sodium. An aluminum loaded resin was also tested since some past studies had reported lithium selectivity with this material. Its adsorption density was 6.6 mg-Li/g and was higher than any other resins tested for the mixed brine in this study. Nevertheless, the overall results showed that the IX resins were not so suitable for lithium extraction from a mixed brine. Then, heterosite FP was investigated as an alternative adsorbent. The FP can adsorb lithium selectively with the addition of a reducing agent to form lithium iron phosphate. This study used thiosulfate (TS) and sulfite (SF) individually as a reducing agent. The maximum adsorption density was 45.9 mg-Li/g by SF reduction at 65 °C, which is almost the same as the theoretical value of 46.0 mg-Li/g. The maximum selectivity over sodium was 2541 by SF reduction at 45 °C. Additionally, it was confirmed that the FP could be recycled by persulfate oxidation without degradation. Finally, the kinetics was studied and fit using pseudo first-order and shrinking sphere model. The two models fit the experimental results and indicated that the lithium extraction reaction was chemical reaction controlled. Since the FP method was found to be promising, it is highly recommended that it should be developed further by using natural brine sources.

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