Evaluation of Li resources in sedimentary basin fluids

Mohammad Marza1, Jennifer McIntosh1
1Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona

The rising demand of Li for multiple industries (e.g., Li batteries to support alternative energy growth, medical products, etc.), and the rising quantities of produced oil/gas wastewater worldwide, motivate this study to explore the potential of Li extraction from wastewater that is accompanied with oil/gas production. Previous studies have shown that Li concentrations can reach 500 ppm in sedimentary basin formation waters (such as the Jurassic Smackover Formation in Arkansas). Li concentrations of greater than 300 ppm have also been noted in the Devonian Marcellus Shale and Helderberg Limestone in Pennsylvania, the Devonian Duperow Formation in North Dakota, and the Cretaceous Edwards Formation in Texas. This study aims to evaluate: 1) where are the highest Li concentrations across sedimentary basins in North America? 2) what is the source of Li enrichment in basinal fluids? And 3) what are the fluxes, and hence mass of Li that can be produced from different reservoirs/basins? Preliminary results indicate variations in Li concentrations with depth in sedimentary basins, with the highest Li values associated with formation water sourced from paleo-evaporated seawater that has been diagenetically altered by interaction with Li-rich clays.

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