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Race for Speedier Lithium Is Underway From Arkansas to Argentina

Jun 11, 2023

Dozens of firms aim to prove skeptics wrong as they push ahead with new lithium extraction methods.

Lithium companies are testing direct extraction methods as an alternative to the giant evaporation ponds used to produce the battery metal.

On the outskirts of El Dorado — heart of Arkansas’ 1920s oil boom — a company backed by Koch Industries Inc. is looking to dramatically speed up extraction of a battery metal essential to weaning the world off fossil fuels, while proving naysayers wrong in the process.

Standard Lithium Ltd. is working on the breakthrough inside a white warehouse near a massive chemical factory run by Germany’s Lanxess AG that feeds brackish wastewater into the facility. A cluster of pipes and tanks in the demonstration plant turn brine into a lithium compound within days instead of the year or more that traditional recovery methods take.