Lithium-bearing brines are an increasingly attractive source of Li for extraction. One extraction mechanism is the removal of Li from the fluid phase through the precipitation of zabuyelite (Li2CO3). The chemistry of the brine plays an important role in this process because ions in solution can compete for the components of the Li-carbonate phase. Here we explore the effect of different brine components on the precipitation of zabuyelite using experiments and computational simulations. Crystals formed in all solutions showed morphological evidence for potential transformation from a precursor phase. Our study indicates that Ca2+ and SO4 2- are incorporated into the precipitated zabuyelite crystals. Sulfate also interacts directly with specific surfaces on the growing crystal and is expected to form ion pairs with Li+ in solution. Similarly, Na+ appears to form ion pairs in solution with the carbonate ion, slowing nucleation of zabuyelite in the experiments. K+ and Cl- may interact with the growing zabuyelite crystals but do not appear to affect zabuyelite nucleation and growth times. These experiments highlight the importance of understanding the solution chemistry on zabuyelite formation in order to predict the efficiency of extraction processes and the purity of the solids.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics