Presidio Ventures Invests in Sustainable Lithium Extraction Technology
Photos by Norberto Seebach
This October, Presidio Ventures, SCOA's Corporate Venture arm, joined a Series B funding round for Lilac Solutions, Inc. ("Lilac"), a lithium extraction company headquartered in Oakland CA. Lilac will use this funding to expand its global team, build a factory in the United States to produce the company's unique ion-exchange beads, and deploy Lilac's lithium extraction technology for projects throughout the United States, South America and Europe.
Lilac's technology is significantly faster to deploy, cost-effective and more sustainable than conventional lithium production methods. Their Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology unlocks new untapped brine resources that contain low lithium and high impurities, an area deemed unusable until recently.
"We're excited to contribute to the sustainable expansion of the world's Lithium supply through our investment into Lilac solutions," said Mr. Doug Kuribayashi, CEO of Presidio Ventures. "We believe that Sumitomo Corporation of Americas' expertise and significant experience in the management and operations of the mining business, together with its global network in trading raw materials for battery production, will add value to Lilac Solutions in the future."
With a large portion of the world’s lithium found in natural saltwater brines, conventional recovery relies on environmentally damaging and weather-vulnerable evaporation ponds. While lithium producers seek more efficient extraction methods, Lilac’s ion-exchange technology extracts lithium without an evaporation pond and significantly less environmental footprint.
Once fully absorbed with lithium, the ion exchange beads efficiently flush out the mineral using hydrochloric acid. According to a CNBC article, the beads can be treated hundreds of times before being replaced and are recyclable. When they can no longer extract the mineral, Lilac recovers and recycles them.
Today, lithium powers a wide range of industries and is used in batteries for mobile phones, laptops, tablets, and most notably, electric vehicles. According to IEA's Global EV Outlook, electric car registrations increased in all major markets in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and 18 of the 20 largest OEMs have committed to improving their offer and sale of EVs.
As these figures drive the automotive industry toward electrification, the lithium supply chain will be a tremendous player in satisfying this consumer demand.
"Electric vehicles are a low-carbon success story and are poised for decades of growth," said Dave Snydacker, CEO and Founder of Lilac Solutions, “but the lithium raw materials needed for batteries have become a serious bottleneck. The lithium industry has been plagued with technical and environmental problems that have put future supply in jeopardy. Lilac's technology solves the fundamental challenges of lithium production from brine resources, and our team is thrilled to deploy globally with support from investors like Presidio Ventures and its parent company, SCOA."
Presidio Ventures anticipates a myriad of opportunities to help scale and apply Lilac's unique solution throughout the company's vast business network. SCOA has extensive experience within the global mining sector and possesses a vast network of industry partners and suppliers. Lilac's technology has the potential to catalyze Lithium production and increase supply, a welcome solution to the growing demand for global electrification.
Lilac's platform strategically aligns with SCOA's goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 2050. In the coming years, SCOA's Mineral Resources Group will shift its focus to target lithium. Similarly, SCOA's Infrastructure Group will change its reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, including geothermal power.
This investment cements SCOA's integration throughout the lithium supply chain, with partnerships ranging from extraction to reuse. With a lithium shortage predicted in 2025, Lilac's technology can scale the global push toward sustainable electrification. SCOA and Presidio are excited to contribute to the expansion of lithium supply as demand continues increasing and scale Lilac’s products toward building a sustainable world.
- The Americas