© 2020 Elsevier Ltd The global demand of lithium is rising steadily, and many industrially advanced countries may find it hard to secure an uninterrupted supply of lithium for meeting their manufacturing demands. Thus, innovative processes for lithium recovery from a wide range of natural reserves should be explored for meeting the future demands. In this study, a novel integrated approach was investigated by combining nanofiltration (NF), membrane distillation (MD) and precipitation processes for lithium recovery from salt-lake brines. Initially, the brine was filtered with an NF membrane for the separation of lithium ions (Li+) from competing ions such as Na+, K+, Ca2+ and Mg2+. The extent of permeation of metal ions by the NF membrane was governed by their hydrated ionic radii. Rejection by NF membrane was 42% for Li, 48% for Na and 61% for K, while both the divalent cations were effectively rejected (above 90%). Importantly, in the NF-permeate, Mg2+/Li+ mass ratio reduced to less than 6 (suggested for lithium recovery). The result showed that MD can enrich lithium with a concentration of 2.5 for raw brine and 5 for NF-treated brine. Following the enrichment of NF-permeate by the MD membrane, a two-stage precipitation method was used for the recovery of lithium. X-ray diffraction confirmed the precipitation of lithium as well as the formation of lithium carbonate crystals.
Available for download on Saturday, July 09, 2022