A serial entrepreneur who first gained notoriety as an NFL agent in his twenties, Egan went again to Austin, Texas and commenced hiring PhD’s specializing in lithium extraction applied sciences. He launched EnergyX, an organization aiming to produce applied sciences for lithium extraction and processing for technology batteries, working with scientists on a ‘nanoparticle filter’ to spice up lithium restoration charges.
EnergyX now owns 23 patents, and in 2019 started working with Dr. John Goodenough, Nobel Prize- profitable inventor of the Li-ion battery, on creating the corporate’s Stable State Batteries. Dr. Goodenough is an advisor to the corporate and EnergyX sponsors his lab with funding underneath its Sponsored Analysis Settlement, Egan informed MINING.com.
Again in Bolivia
Bolivian state-owned lithium firm Yacimientos de Litios Banosolivi (YLB) oversees extraction of lithium from complicated brines beneath the salt flats at roughly 4,000 metres elevation, however precise lithium manufacturing in Bolivia, a rustic the place miners have been identified to sacrifice llamas to appease the Gods, has lengthy been an enormous risk, but never a reality.
Former president Luis Morales declared a lithium mining offensive in 2017, which didn’t come into play.
In late 2020, nevertheless, Bolivia democratically elected a brand new president, Luis Arce, who vowed to rebuild the country’s battered economy.
In spring of 2021, EnergyX secured $20 million in financing to proceed creating its direct lithium extraction (DLE) expertise. In accordance with EnergyX, this funding makes it the highest-valued direct lithium extraction expertise firm available on the market, and the agency owns an unique, worldwide license to commercialize a course of that makes use of an advanced nanomaterial filtering membrane referred to as a metal-organic framework (MOF).
Within the early steps of Arce’s administration, he initiated an open tender for worldwide firms to submit proposals for his or her expertise, and after receiving dozens of proposals, Bolivia held a global lithium seminar.
EnergyX was one of many US firms invited, and based on Egan, of the chosen prime 8 firms, 4 had been from China, one was from Russia, two from the US and one from Argentina.
When the tender was introduced, all the opposite firms had brine shipped again to their labs of their house nations. Vitality X was the one firm that was able to deploy its expertise, LITAS – a containerized direct lithium extraction (DLE) unit, – all the way down to the sector and begin testing, Egan informed MINING.com.
The pilot arrived in Bolivia on December 30, Egan mentioned, and made it to the Salar in mid January. A gaggle of EnergyX engineers went down that month and commissioned it and contracted native Bolivians to function it.
“This can be a new business… ExergyX is a comparatively small firm, a start-up, and we’re the one firm that despatched a bodily pilot all the way down to the sector, to the most important lithium reserve on the earth,” Egan mentioned. “I might go do glass beakers in my lab all day with the brine that they ship, however it’s all about proving it within the area.”
“We have now some distinct aggressive benefits, in that we’re the one firm that our expertise is complementary to current infrastructure in ponds,” Egan mentioned. “All people else is making an attempt to deal with the brine from the well-head. Why that’s a bonus for us, is as a result of Bolivia has already spent $1 billion on their current infrastructure.”
“They’ve an amazing useful resource, they usually’ve constructed out numerous their very own infrastructure. And we’ve the expertise that may assist them unlock it.”
Egan mentioned YLB has constructed 50MW of energy within the Salar, and that the evaporation ponds have capability for 75,000 tonnes of lithium.
“They want the separation expertise that EnergyX makes, as a result of they’ve numerous rain, which is counterproductive to evaporating and dilutes additional, and [they] even have ‘horrible co precipitating salts, actually excessive ratios of different salts, in comparison with lithium,” Egan mentioned.
“That’s why they’re not producing – they’ve already constructed all of it [but] Bolivia had closed borders, and wished to develop the lithium themselves, and tried and failed for about 12 years.”
“They’ve these issues, so we got here up with an answer that’s complementary to their current infrastructure with minimal capex. It may well mainly unlock their entire system.”
EnergyX’s pilot plant is testing, after which the corporate will scale it as much as an illustration plant. One full dimension industrial stack matches into one full dimension delivery container, Egan mentioned, including the following step is letting the pilot run for six months.
“We have now examined the brine again in our labs, and it really works on a lab pilot scale…Nice outcomes, nice separations, nice restoration for every week. It must work for six months. After that, I would like the demonstration to work for six months.”
EnergyX has a lithium extraction unit within the pilot plant in Bolivia utilizing membrane stacks – the membranes are what really do the separation of the lithium from the opposite salt species which can be discovered within the brine, Egan mentioned.
He mentioned one unit can produce about 3 tonnes of lithium per 12 months, including that the purpose of the pilot isn’t to provide loads – it’s to show it really works over a six month interval.
“So then, we scale as much as the most important full dimension industrial stack of the membranes. One unit that may produce 300 tonnes. I’ve designed the entire system to be pre-fabricated, so we construct these into containers domestically after which modular, so we are able to simply ship them down.”
“Our entire objective is to attempt to unlock this big treasure that they’ve, and hopefully see to it that the income that’s generated from that goes again into the economic system and helps individuals. I don’t have the facility to do this – that may be the Bolivian authorities – however what I can management helps them produce the lithium,” Egan mentioned.
“From there it’s only a matter of what number of tonnes of lithium they wish to produce…I believe that it is a new Bolivia. I believe notion can change – this new administration is a breath of contemporary air.”