ICE 2022


The need to take urgent actions against climate change, accelerated the vision that renewable electricity generation sources can, in the short or medium term, replace hydrocarbons. For this reason, there is currently a worldwide demand for lithium since it is highly required in the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles, smartphones and on a large scale for energy storage. Nowadays, the metal production capacity is geographically limited, which is why, it will not only have to increase, but also diversify into different sources of lithium to guarantee global supply. The world lithium supply comes from two main resources: pegmatites (26%), and brine deposits (58 %), but currently 70% of the world production comes from pegmatites and 30% from brines. In Argentina, the main lithium production is restricted to the Puna region from brine deposits found in salt flats. The most common extractive method is solar evaporation in pools. Although processing costs are low and efficient, it is strongly dependent on arid climate conditions. It is estimated that around 3% of the world's lithium resources are contained in oilfield brines, as can be seen in different places of the United States (North Dakota, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and East Texas). The Smackover Formation in the Gulf Coast of the United States hosts 1 million metric tons of lithium resources. This allows lithium to be quickly recovered applying technologies such as adsorbents, membrane-based processes and electrolysis-based systems. The following work aims to give visibility to possible unconventional sources of lithium in volcanic reservoirs in the Neuquina Basin, from oil filed brines. Additionally, other prospective zones are mentioned in other types of reservoirs such as evaporitic and siliciclastic. At present, there are no public data about the presence of lithium in chemical analysis from oil field brines in Neuquén basin, since does not belong to the commonly determined ions. We propose a series of studies and places where the characterization of oil field brines could be carried out in order to confirm the relative value of lithium as a recoverable mineral. This could allow the incorporation of a new source of lithium in Argentina, which extraction would not require the drilling of new wells and companies could benefit by reducing their costs from the income generated with the recovery of lithium and helping in the transition towards a circular economy.