Lithium – Great for Batteries, Headache for Labs
The electric vehicle (EV) revolution has mining companies focused on lithium exploration and production with nickel, manganese, and cobalt also deemed critical for EV batteries. One means for lithium production involves extracting the mineral via evaporation from brine. Exploration of cost‑effective sources of lithium and production operations focus not only on the mass and concentration of lithium in the brine, but also the ratio of lithium to competing ions including magnesium and sulfate.
Measurement of lithium, magnesium, and sulfate within the salar brines and at evaporation ponds is often challenging due to the presence of extremely high total dissolved solids. Whether measuring source rock, brine, produced water, slurry, or groundwater, interferences in the analytical process can result in data of unusable quality. The brine release/specific yield methods, the analytical preparation (digestion/fusion) step, and the determination steps all can be the source of unusable, indefensible data. If you are concerned about the quality of your analytical data, Environmental Standards’ Quality Assurance Chemists can provide an independent chemistry perspective. With ~ 40 Consulting Chemists on staff (we are not a laboratory), our professionals have years of experience and expertise with the preparation and determination steps necessary to derive quality analytical data when extracting lithium.
For more than 30 years, Environmental Standards’ consulting chemistry professionals have brought independent analytical experience to solve inconsistencies observed in laboratory data. Each year, we audit over 100 laboratories across North America, Central and South America, and Europe on behalf of industrial clients. These rigorous audits are designed and customized to meet our client’s project or program goals and routinely exceed regulatory-based and ISO Standard 17025 requirements. Assessing non-routine methods such as stable isotope analysis is just one example of our expertise. Laboratory audits and the use of double-blind performance evaluations are important tools for assessing liabilities that may arise from using a commercial laboratory. We also support projects where more in-depth forensic investigations and interpretation are required.
If you are setting up an internal laboratory operation, we can assist by developing specifications for instrumentation and laboratory information management system (LIMS) purchase, setting up the instrumentation and/or LIMS upon arrival in the laboratory, developing and/or updating laboratory-specific operating procedures, and training Analysts on a wide variety of laboratory operating, quality control and ethics practices.
If you have questions about your laboratory, analytical method a specific question about data, give us a call. We are here to help you succeed.