(Bloomberg) — Breakthrough Energy Ventures, helmed by Bill Gates, and MIT’s The Engine fund are leading an investment round of $20 million for Lilac Solutions, a U.S. startup aimed at making the extraction of lithium less water-intensive and more sustainable.
As the world looks to cut carbon emissions, people are increasingly turning to lithium-ion batteries for solutions such as powering electric vehicles or storing renewable energy. While there’s enough lithium available to meet today’s demand, BloombergNEF expects the market could see a shortfall as soon as 2023 as demand for the metal grows fourfold over the next decade.
About 75% of the world’s lithium is trapped in underground deposits of briny water that contain a mixture of salts. The typical way to recover lithium is to pump the water to the surface into miles-long salt ponds and let the water evaporate. What remains is then treated with chemicals, processed, washed, and filtered to leave behind the lithium. Continue Reading →