EnergyX has successfully deployed the first of three LiTAS pilot plants, a containerized direct lithium extraction (DLE) unit, for operation at Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, the largest lithium resource in the world. EnergyX first licensed its core technology from the University of Texas in May 2019, and only two years later has amassed a team of 30 scientists and engineers as well as accumulated over 40 patents. Now EnergyX has manufactured and shipped the world’s first direct lithium extraction unit into South America’s Lithium Triangle.
After strong prototype testing results at their Austin, Texas, facility, adjacent to Tesla’s new Global Headquarters, the company’s LiTAS units have shown to drastically improve lithium recovery rates in Bolivia’s largest lithium deposits, making it a viable resource. Originally one of nine companies approached by the Bolivian Government and given clearance to develop technology for use in the domestic lithium market – EnergyX is the first to build, test and ship a pilot plant and accompanying support structure.
Bolivia’s lithium resources are largely untapped. Under President Luis Arce, who was inaugurated in 2020, the South American nation has sought to develop an economic model relying on the sustainable extraction of lithium to lift citizens out of poverty. Cutting-edge DLE technology like LiTAS is envisioned as being a significant part of the future of Bolivia’s economic revival, and following successful piloting and demonstration, EnergyX and the government of Bolivia plan to move towards commercialization.
“This marks an important moment for the whole lithium and battery materials sector, as well as a monumental step in EnergyX’s evolution,” states EnergyX CEO Teague Egan. “Within just two years of the company’s creation, it has assembled a world-class team of experts building a portfolio of lithium extraction, processing and refinery technologies that completely outperform current methods. A testament to EnergyX’s dedicated research team, who worked tirelessly to design, build, test and create LiTAS, EnergyX now stands at the forefront as the world’s premier DLE provider.”
Starting as an idea that emerged during a trip Egan took to Salar de Uyuni, the premise of making lithium extraction more efficient was further developed through conversations with Dr. Benny Freeman and Nobel laureate John Goodenough, Ph.D., at the University of Texas (UT). Additional research at UT’s world-leading materials laboratories furthered the opportunity for Egan to license innovative lithium extraction technology. LiTAS then went from idea to blueprint to reality.
The promise of LiTAS was not enough however, and Egan’s vision has led EnergyX to new heights, finding partnerships with major mining conglomerates, supply chain operators and foremost researchers to bolster the company’s reputation for finding sustainable solutions. This eventually led to a series of successful funding events where EnergyX raised over $20 million USD to disrupt the lithium industry.
EnergyX’s technology has proven that its patented Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology Lithium demand is set to increase by 400% by 2025. To meet this demand LiTAS operations must increase and develop every aspect of their supply chain. The largest roadblock up until this point had been the time commitment surrounding lithium yields from either brines or hard rock, which could take several months per ton. While currently complementing existing extraction infrastructure, EnergyX’s LiTAS could eventually supplant current extraction methods improving cost, time and yield, while having a much smaller environmental footprint.