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Integrated Circular Economy Model System for Direct Lithium Extraction: From Minerals to Batteries Utilizing Aluminum Hydroxide

Publication Type
Journal Name
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Publication Date
Page Numbers
58984 to 58993

Aluminum hydroxide, an abundant mineral found in nature, exists in four polymorphs: gibbsite, bayerite, nordstrandite, and doyleite. Among these polymorphs gibbsite, bayerite, and commercially synthesized amorphous aluminum hydroxide have been investigated as sorbent materials for lithium extraction from sulfate solutions. The amorphous form of Al(OH)3 exhibits a reactivity higher than that of the naturally occurring crystalline polymorphs in terms of extracting Li+ ions. This study employed high-temperature oxide melt solution calorimetry to explore the energetics of the sorbent polymorphs. The enthalpic stability order was measured to be gibbsite > bayerite > amorphous Al(OH)3. The least stable form, amorphous Al(OH)3, undergoes a spontaneous reaction with lithium, resulting in the formation of a stable layered double hydroxide phase. Consequently, amorphous Al(OH)3 shows promise as a sorbent material for selectively extracting lithium from clay mineral leachate solutions. This research demonstrates the selective direct extraction of Li+ ions using amorphous aluminum hydroxide through a liquid–solid lithiation reaction, followed by acid-free delithiation and relithiation processes, achieving an extraction efficiency of 86%, and the maximum capacity was 37.86 mg·g–1 in a single step during lithiation. With high selectivity during lithiation and nearly complete recoverability of the sorbent material during delithiation, this method presents a circular economy model. Furthermore, a life cycle analysis was conducted to illustrate the environmental advantages of replacing the conventional soda ash-based precipitation process with this method, along with a simple operational cost analysis to evaluate reagent and fuel expenses.