Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by Fnord666 on Monday February 12, @10:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the already-in-Texas-doe-the-patent-dispute dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

With continual technological advancements in mobile devices and electric cars, the global demand for lithium has quickly outpaced the rate at which it can be mined or recycled, but a University of Texas at Austin professor and his research team may have a solution.

Benny Freeman, professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering, and his colleagues at the Monash University Department of Chemical Engineering and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia have recently discovered a new, efficient way to extract lithium and other metals and minerals from water. They published their findings in the Feb. 9 issue of Science Advances.

The team's technique uses a metal-organic-framework membrane that mimics the filtering function, or "ion selectivity," of biological cell membranes. The membrane process easily and efficiently separates metal ions, opening the door to revolutionary technologies in the water and mining industries and potential economic growth opportunities in Texas.

[...] In addition, the team's process could help with water desalination. Unlike the existing reverse-osmosis membranes responsible for more than half of the world's current water desalination capacity, the new membrane process dehydrates ions as they pass through the membrane channels and removes only select ions, rather than indiscriminately removing all ions. The result is a process that costs less and consumes less energy than conventional methods.

See also: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aaq0066

Source: https://news.utexas.edu/2018/02/09/new-lithium-collection-method-could-boost-global-supply


Original Submission

Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Reply to Article Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
(1)
  • (Score: 2) by Osamabobama on Monday February 12, @11:37PM (14 children)

    by Osamabobama (5842) on Monday February 12, @11:37PM (#636876)

    There is a pattern that's emerging:

    1. New technology enabled by new material
    2. Use begins to outstrip supply
    3. Mild panic with promises of future doom
    4. Science solves the supply problem or obviates the need

    Profit?

    --
    Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by MostCynical on Monday February 12, @11:45PM (5 children)

      by MostCynical (2589) on Monday February 12, @11:45PM (#636880)

      4. Science solves the supply problem or obviates the need

      5. Exploitation increases.
      6a. Misery and death
      Or
      6b. Utopia
      7. universe ends.

      --
      (Score: tau, Irrational)
      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday February 13, @12:10AM (3 children)

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 13, @12:10AM (#636894)

        7. universe ends.

        I'm opening a crowd funding campaign with the potential to get a good profit from the event.
        I mean... the event is quite singular, surely there will be customers willing to pay zillions for a seat in the restaurant at the end of the universe.
        Shares proportional with the contribution to the campaign - pay now, profit a bit later.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday February 13, @02:44AM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 13, @02:44AM (#636944) Journal

        6a. Misery and death
        Or
        6b. Utopia

        It's certainly getting better rather than worse. So something more like 6b than 6a.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by fustakrakich on Tuesday February 13, @12:03AM

      by fustakrakich (6150) on Tuesday February 13, @12:03AM (#636889) Journal

      No, the profits come before "science solves the supply problem or obviates the need". Science is the party pooper!

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, @12:39AM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, @12:39AM (#636905)

      People spend resources researching how to get lithium, because the market tells them that society (and thus they) would profit from successful research; the market tells the researchers this by means of the price per unit of lithium going up—it's a signal.

      By having markets that are free from the meddling decrees of bureaucrats (that is, by having free markets), society is able to find out how to allocate resources effectively.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Tuesday February 13, @12:57AM (4 children)

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 13, @12:57AM (#636914) Journal

        Didn't we have an article recently stating that the world wide supply of lithium was vast and more than enough to handle all the demand?

        I think it had something to do with Musk's giga factory.

        Battery University [batteryuniversity.com] has an article stating that rumors of supply problems are premature, and Chinese hording is suspected. Most of the known supply of lithium is in Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Australia and China. Most other places have supplies, but haven't bothered to mine it because the price of lithium is too cheep. Bloomberg agrees [bloomberg.com].

        If all it takes is a higher price to get it out of the ground, that's a good thing.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 0, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, @01:17AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, @01:17AM (#636917)

          A rising price for lithium sends the signal that it might be profitable to expand mining, or indeed to research new ways to perform mining.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, @01:26AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, @01:26AM (#636920)

            Stating yourself, Captain Obvious?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, @03:05AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, @03:05AM (#636948)

          A rising price for lithium sends the signal that it might be profitable to expand mining, or indeed to research new ways to perform mining.

        • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Tuesday February 13, @03:30AM

          by fustakrakich (6150) on Tuesday February 13, @03:30AM (#636959) Journal

          If all it takes is a higher price to get it out of the ground, that's a good thing.

          That is all it takes... We have proven over and over that with enough money we can do anything. The better option is make the process cheaper, probably through automation, like tunnel boring, and mobile furnaces on the back end. This "distillation" thing is good. You can get all sorts of other stuff while you're at it [stanford.edu]. Reducing human effort is the goal. The price should follow.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Wootery on Tuesday February 13, @09:43AM

      by Wootery (2341) on Tuesday February 13, @09:43AM (#637052)

      See also Malthusianism. [wikipedia.org]

      the idea that population growth is potentially exponential while the growth of the food supply is arithmetical at best

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by c0lo on Monday February 12, @11:55PM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 12, @11:55PM (#636884)

    CSIRO blog [csiro.au].

    Full text of TFSANP [sciencemag.org] (that's The Fine Scientific Article No Paywall): "Ultrafast selective transport of alkali metal ions in metal organic frameworks with subnanometer pores"

(1)