Turkey’s geothermal power plants have the capacity to produce more than half of the world’s annual supply of lithium, which is used for electric car batteries, the head of a leading geothermal group said Monday.
Ufuk Şentürk, the president of Turkey's Geothermal Electricity Power Plant Investors Association (JESDER), told Anadolu Agency (AA) that geothermal power plants in the country could produce 17,000 metric tons of lithium and could potentially account for more than half of the world’s 35,000 metric tons of lithium production annually.
Lithium is used in several fields, including battery technology, mobile devices, electric cars and electrically powered tools, and is rare worldwide as a raw material.
Şentürk noted that a step taken to produce lithium carbonate from geothermal power plants could greatly contribute to the country’s first domestic and fully electric car project and local energy storage technologies.
Emphasizing the importance of technological advancements and raw material production in the country's energy transformation, Şentürk said geothermal resources could be used in the energy sector, secondary industries, thermal tourism, greenhouse cultivation and others.
Lithium and other precious materials such as manganese and zing could be extracted and converted from the hot, salty underground fluid coming out of geothermal power plants' post-power production.
Şentürk said the chemical content that will be extracted from the underground fluid is dependent on factors such as plants’ geological structure, heat potential and other physical and chemical properties.
“Turkey’s lithium reserves rank 25th in the world and we are ready to give any kind of support for the extraction of these reserves,” he said.
Şentürk also praised the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry’s new project to build a facility to produce lithium out of the liquid waste that occurs during the refining process of boron mines.
He noted that the production of lithium carbonate is expected to begin at the facility as of the end of this year.
Turkey's official mining company, Eti Maden, has developed the new production method and has produced lithium carbonate and commercial boron products by going beyond traditional methods with its research and development (R&D) studies spanning three years.
In order to use this technology, the ministry agreed to commission a facility with an annual lithium production capacity of 10 tons soon.
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