BMW invests in lithium extraction technology

October 06, 2021 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
BMW invests in lithium extraction technology
BMW has set itself ambitious goals for electromobility: In the next ten years, the company wants to sell around 10 million fully electric cars, and by 2030 at least half of the BMW Group's sales should consist of fully electric vehicles. This drives the demand for lithium for the production of batteries. That is why the vehicle manufacturer is investing in the mining of this raw material through its venture capital fund BMW i Ventures.

The Bavarian carmaker's investment focuses on an innovative process developed by a company called Lilac Solutions. The US start-up has patented a technology that uses an ion exchanger to significantly improve the mining of lithium from the brine of salt water deposits in terms of efficiency, cost and sustainability.

"Innovative technologies lead to better, more sustainable and efficient access to raw materials. By investing in start-ups, we accelerate the development of new technologies, promote competition and set impulses that facilitate market access for young companies," said Wolfgang Obermaier, Head of Indirect Goods and Services, Raw Materials, Production Partners of the BMW Group. "By investing in Lilac Solutions, we are promoting technological progress in the field of lithium mining. The focus is on responsible and sustainable mining."

Lilac Solutions has developed a new ion exchange technology to make the mining of lithium from brine resources more efficient and cost-effective. At the same time, the company claims to significantly reduce the environmental impact compared to conventional methods and protect local communities and ecosystems. According to BMW, the technology has already proven itself in initial field pilot projects and now has to prove that it is scalable and can go into industrialisation in the medium term. The process would then be applicable worldwide in brines, even if they only have a low lithium content.

With this investment, BMW also wants to underline its claim to align its processes more closely with the goals of sustainability and resource conservation. A key aspect of this is compliance with environmental and social standards in the supply chain. In the case of critical raw materials, the requirement to exclude violations of environmental standards and human rights poses a particular challenge - as is the case with lithium. For this raw material, the BMW Group's Purchasing department has therefore taken additional measures and buys it directly from the raw material producers in order to make it available to


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