Vulcan, a lithium extraction company, has officially opened its Lithium Extraction Optimisation Plant (LEOP) in Landau, Germany.
The LEOP, a €40m investment by Vulcan, is Europe’s first plant for fully domestic lithium chemicals production, aimed at securing Europe’s lithium supply chain for Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) manufacturers. The lithium is sourced from the Upper Rhine Valley Brine Field, the largest lithium resource in Europe. The LEOP is part of the ZERO CARBON LITHIUM™ Project, which uses renewable heat in the lithium brine resource to produce lithium with a net zero carbon footprint.
The commencement of operations at LEOP marks the production of the first lithium chemicals in Europe with an entirely locally sourced value chain. Vulcan has been testing and piloting lithium production in the Upper Rhine Valley Brine Field for nearly three years, including at its pilot plants in Insheim and Landau. Over 10,000 hours of successful in-house pilot plant performance testing has been conducted to date, showing high lithium recoveries and thousands of cycles of sorbent life with no degradation.
Vulcan uses its proprietary in-house sorbent, VULSORB®, which they claim has been demonstrated as a high-performance relative to “off the shelf” products. The company has demonstrated that the sustainable lithium production process Adsorption-Type Direct Lithium Extraction (A-DLE), which accounts for 10% of global lithium production today, can be successfully applied in the Upper Rhine Valley, heated and powered by geothermal renewable energy.
The LEOP will serve as an optimization facility and training ground for Vulcan’s production team, producing tonnes of lithium chloride, while the Phase One commercial plant is being constructed and commissioned over the next two and a half years.
The EU has set a target of 100% of vehicles to be zero emissions by 2035, indicating a significant increase in lithium demand in the coming years. Vulcan’s Zero Carbon Lithium™ Project, with integrated renewable heat, renewable power and lithium production, aims to meet this demand. The company has lithium offtake agreements in place with Stellantis, Volkswagen, Renault, Umicore and LG.
Once Phase One commercial production commences, Vulcan’s ZERO CARBON LITHIUM™ business will produce enough lithium hydroxide for 500,000 BEVs, as well as providing renewable heating to local communities and generating thousands of direct and indirect energy transition jobs.
Source: EV Tech Insider