Researchers make massive lithium discovery in Pennsylvania

Researchers make massive lithium discovery in Pennsylvania

Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh have discovered a large amount of lithium located in Pennsylvania, saying it could eventually supply more than a third of America’s needs for the mineral.

Researcher and study lead author Justin Mackey told CBS Pittsburgh in an article published Wednesday that the wastewaters of the Marcellus Shale gas wells could cover “somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of the current U.S. national demand.”

“This study estimates that Marcellus Shale related Li yields have potential to make a significant contribution to US domestic consumption with a set of reasonable, conservative assumptions,” says the research, published in the Nature Journal last month.

“If you can extract value out of materials, and specifically lithium from this, then you reduce the cost of remediating and handling this waste,” Mackey said.

The researchers analyzed compliance data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to determine their results.

The study noted that as decarbonization efforts across the U.S. grow more popular, the demand for lithium increases despite rising supply chain concerns.

The researchers also said lithium is “considered essential to the US economy due to domestic consumption in energy, manufacturing and defense.”

The U.S. Geological Survey labels lithium as a critical mineral; its biggest uses include rechargeable batteries, including in cellphones and electric vehicles.

Speaking with CBS News, Mackey acknowledged that fracking is a highly controversial topic.

“I do hope that it sheds light on creative remediation and reuse of these fluids. There’s a lot of materials that are embodied in the water,” he said.

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