I've mentioned these guys before but as lithium is an important material for electric car batteries I'll post this new article from Wired anyway - Mining Company Gets Cash to Pull Lithium from Waste Water.
The latest old school industrial business to receive new money is Simbol Mining, which announced a $6.7 million round of financing from Mohr Davidow Ventures and Firelake Capital, yesterday.
Simbol plans to extract lithium carbonate, the main raw ingredient in the lithium-ion batteries that power your laptop and maybe someday your car, from brines and waste streams.
"This is not for the faint of heart: the technology is complex," said CEO Luka Erceg by telephone. "It doesn't surprise me that we're the only ones looking at it right now."
Lithium-carbonate is an increasingly important mineral as rechargeable battery production continues to ramp up. Right now, as the US Geological Survey puts it, "Two brine operations in Chile dominate the world market." Some energy analysts worry that as electric vehicle and laptop production continue to climb, the world could face a serious lithium scarcity problem. The USGS Mineral Yearbook on Lithium from 2006, the most recent year available, states that "as demand and prices rise, lithium resources that had been considered uneconomic might once again yield economically feasible raw materials for the production of lithium carbonate."
Erceg wasn't talking about how their actual process works, but we dug into the backgrounds of the former Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists with whom he's working to to reveal some tantalizing hints about their process and who their first geothermal power plant partner could be.