Saudi-based Lihytech gets $6mn investment for lithium extraction from seawater

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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Image: Thierry Meier @ Unsplash

King Abdullah University of science & technology (KAUST) and Saudi Arabian Mining corporation Ma’aden have announced a $6 million investment in Lithium Infinity (Lihytech).

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be driven by the battery-grade lithium produced by the KAUST firm to develop the whole value chain for electric vehicles (EVs). A membrane-based lithium extraction method created by Professor Zhiping Lai at KAUST has been patented by Lihytech.

Alkali metal can be extracted using cutting-edge technology from a variety of sources, including seawater, brine, red mud, and more. The firm was supported by KAUST’s research translation initiative, the KAUST Near Term Grand Challenge, and the campus is where the technology is being developed.

The technology will advance from the lab to a commercial pilot scale with this investment. Ma’aden is spearheading the investment with $4 million, followed by $2 million from KAUST Innovation Ventures. KAUST Innovation Ventures, the University’s venture financing arm, sponsors deep tech firms that aim to provide answers to urgent scientific and technological challenges, such as lithium extraction. With the additional funding, Lihytech plans to construct a pilot facility at KAUST to extract lithium from the Red Sea and other United Kingdom resources.

Ma’aden and KAUST agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) earlier this month. Additionally, the business has participated in the KAUST Industry Collaboration Program since 2022. The collaboration and commercialization of research and technology are made possible by the relationships between Ma’aden and KAUST. The most recent outcome of this is supporting Lihytech and commercialising its innovative disruptive extraction technology.

The investment in Lihytech is a part of KAUST’s ongoing efforts to advance technology and move research from the lab to the marketplace. The future-focused purpose of KAUST supports the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 for both economic and social transformation by focusing on the development of a variety of technologies to enhance sustainable energy, minimise waste, and discover innovative methods to extract essential minerals.

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