Rare earth metals, such as cobalt, vanadium and indium or the more abundant lithium became the limiting bottleneck of several new technologies. Lithium is a components of Li-Ion-batteries such as an electric vehicles. Also, Vanadium is a strategic metal for large-scale energy storage (Redox-Flow-Batteries). The aim of the project is the development of new concepts for the efficient recovery of valuable compounds (e.g. lithium and vanadium) from concentrated brines as by-product of desalination plants. Electrochemical concepts will be targeted, as an ionic separation is expected to be more efficient if an electric field is applied. The selectivity towards lithium will be managed through lithium-ion-conductive membranes.
Advanced materials are the key components for the proposed technology. Ion-selective membranes and electrodes will be developed and tested in electrochemical cell set-ups towards selectivity, stability, efficiency and costs.
In case of success, this project will be able to provide the technology for exploiting the most abundant source for rare metals (seawater) or even recovering valuable metals from waste (brines as by-product of desalination plants).