On 21 February 2020, Lake announced that its technology partner, California-based Lilac Solutions, had received some US$20 million in funding from investors including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which is backed by sustainability-focused investors including household names such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Alibaba’s Jack Ma, together with Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP.
The funding will support Lilac’s commercialisation of its new ion exchange technology for the direct extraction of lithium from brine resources, which is significantly faster, cheaper and more scalable than current technology, while offering a potentially sustainable solution for the lithium brine industry.
Production of significant lithium carbonate samples by Lilac Solutions ion exchange pilot plant for potential offtake partners is Lake’s and Lilac’s immediate focus, as Lake advances development of scalable and sustainable lithium extraction.
A pilot plant is being commissioned, which has shown 80-90% recoveries and lithium brine concentrations over 60,000 mg/L lithium. Battery grade lithium carbonate (99.9% purity) has been produced from Kachi brine samples with very low impurities (Fe, B, with <0.001 wt%).
Discussions are advanced with downstream entities, mainly battery/cathode makers, as well as financiers, to jointly develop the project.