New techniques for producing lithium could play a vital part in making batteries for applications ranging from smartphones to electric vehicles that are more environmentally friendly than current methods of extraction. According to a Reuters report, car makers, mining companies and investors including the US Energy Department are pouring money into direct lithium extraction (DLE) technologies that hold out the promise of boosting global lithium production, which is mostly sourced from just a handful of countries today. There are a number of DLE technologies which all revolve around extracting the metal from brine in various ways, such as using filters, membranes, or ceramic beads. These are touted as more sustainable solutions than existing ways of obtaining lithium, such as pumping lithium-containing saltwater from underground lakes to the surface in desert areas of Chile or Argentina, and extracting it through evaporation in large basins.
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