Fracking Wastewater in Pennsylvania Yields High Lithium Levels

Fracking Wastewater in Pennsylvania Yields High Lithium Levels

Wastewater from fracking for shale gas in Pennsylvania contains unusually high levels of lithium ions, potentially aiding the green transition, U.S. Congressman Guy Reschenthaler said on June 8 on Fox News Channel. A study published in Nature in April 2024 revealed that annual lithium production from the Marcellus Shale, a large natural gas reserve in Pennsylvania and neighboring states, could reach 1,278 tons.

This amount could meet nearly half of the U.S.’s lithium needs. Since approximately 8 kilograms of lithium are required to produce a typical electric car battery, the lithium from the Marcellus Shale could support the production of about 160,000 electric cars, or supply about 40 percent of the U.S.’s annual lithium consumption.

Reschenthaler urged Democrats to negotiate on climate policies, highlighting that the green agenda has increased the demand for lithium for battery production. Researcher Justin McKee noted that extracting lithium from wastewater not only ensures significant lithium recovery but also reduces treatment and purification costs. He suggested that shale deposits in West Virginia and Ohio might also contain lithium, potentially spurring economic growth in these states.

The Biden administration has set a goal to transition from hydrocarbon fuels to renewable energy sources. This shift requires batteries not only for electric cars but also to balance consumption peaks that do not align with solar and wind power generation peaks. The extent of lithium required for such battery stations remains uncertain, but it is expected to be substantial. icon

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