Mining and Metallurgy
The sustainable extraction of high-purity lithium, copper, nickel, cobalt, and platinum group metals that are suitable for use in batteries is essential for advancing the transition to electric vehicles. The use of ion exchange resins leads to highly efficient refining processes that can be used for the production of high-performance batteries with a good carbon footprint and water balance.
Large quantities of water are used in ore processing – from cleaning the raw ores to isolating the pure metals. Obtaining and, if applicable, separating the metal ions from this water is indispensable for both economical and ecological reasons.
Lewatit® ion exchangers offer the fascinating possibility of binding certain metal ions selectively, such as precious, platinum, or rare earth metals. Secondary constituents can also be separated, such as zinc from copper electrolytes or cobalt from nickel or copper salt solutions. In this process, the metal ions are removed from the aqueous solution and accumulated on the ion exchange resin, which greatly facilitates their further processing – or disposal, in the case of waste water flows.
With the aid of special ion exchange resins, metals can be obtained from ore leachates by means of direct extraction. The Lewatit® grades specially adapted for applications in hydrometallurgy possess chelating functional groups that very efficiently and highly selectively bind specific metal ions. Thus, using resin-in-pulp (RIP) technology, for example, metals like copper, nickel, and also cobalt can be extracted more efficiently and ecologically than with conventional methods. Similarly, ion exchangers for the final polishing of nickel and cobalt concentrates are used to produce high-purity cobalt and nickel. The metals are constituent parts of active materials for cell cathodes of the lithium-ion batteries.
For these and other applications, LANXESS offers a comprehensive range of special ion exchange resins that are tailored to specific requirements.