Only one lithium deposit is believed to be operating in the US, although its effectiveness is also in question, making the country dependent on imports of this truly strategic raw material.
At the same time, lithium in the form of dissolved salts is available in sufficient quantities in geothermal plants, and, according to scientists, the US can completely close the problem of lithium supplies using these sources.
Operators of wells in the salt lake Salton Sea in southern California are moving to extract lithium from brines from geothermal sources.
There are 11 geothermal power plants at this location, where advanced installations for extracting lithium from liquid are being tested.
Geothermal waters rise to the surface and are brought to a boil to supply steam to turbine blades. The remaining concentrated brine as a by-product is processed, and lithium salts are extracted from it, from which lithium metal is then obtained.
Geologists estimate that geothermal stations in the Salton Sea area will be able to produce up to 20,000 tons of lithium metal per year.
This covers ten times the current demand for lithium in the US. The question, though remains, when will all this reach the industrial production level, and it will take years.
However, geothermal sources are also seen as promising suppliers of lithium, and this is also recognized in countries such as Germany and the UK.
And over time, geothermal wells may become the leading suppliers of lithium in developed countries, while the supply of heat and electricity will become a pleasant bonus.