California: Geothermal Plant to Help Meet High Lithium Demand

Project Overview
Positive Impact: To meet a growing electric vehicle battery market, innovative geothermal process during power production supplies additional revenue.
Locations: Pleasanton, California
Partners: Simbol Materials
EERE Investment: $3 million ARRA funds; cost-share $6.6 million
Clean Energy Sector: Renewable electricity generationPDF

Through funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, EERE's Geothermal Technologies Office is working with California's Simbol Materials to develop technologies that extract battery materials like lithium, manganese, and zinc from geothermal brines. Simbol has the potential to power 300,000–600,000 electric vehicles per year from their plants and is expected to commence production by year end 2013. Energy Department support enabled the company to build the first demonstration facility and co-produce these strategic materials during the power production process. Simbol estimates that 50 megawatts in this mineral-rich region could supply enough lithium to produce the vehicle batteries. As part of DOE's Strategic Minerals Initiative, the Simbol project explores methods to cost effectively extract valuable and strategically important minerals from U.S. geothermal brines. Simbol's Salton Sea plant will create an additional revenue stream from geothermal power production in the near-term and a replicable model for mineral extraction at other sites going forward.

The Geothermal Technologies Office researches, develops, and validates innovative and cost-competitive technologies and tools to locate, access, and develop geothermal resources in the United States.

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