Warren Kennedy

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Warren Kennedy
Senior Vice President/Marketing and Sales Director
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P: 816-822-3384
F: 816-822-3416

Initial Commercial Plant FEP-2

Initial Commercial Plant FEP-2

Location: California

Client: Simbol Materials

Completion Date: 2012

Simbol Materials engaged Burns & McDonnell to perform preliminary engineering design services for the construction of its Initial Commercial Plant (ICP), a lithium extraction and purification facility located at the southern tip of the Salton Sea near Calipatria, Calif. The ICP facility was to receive mineral-rich brine stream from a geothermal power plant on the adjacent property.

The ICP was to be constructed in phases, with an initial annual production goal of approximately 3,000 metric tons per year (mt/y) of lithium carbonate or equivalent lithium hydroxide. A later phase would increase capacity to approximately 6,000 mt/y. However, engineering analysis showed that it would be expensive or very complex to expand certain unit operations after initial installation. Therefore, accommodation for the greater capacity was designed into the initial phase, with selected unit operations installed at the full 6,000 mt/y capacity but operated at the 3,000 mt/y capacity. After mineral extraction, the geothermal brine will be returned to the neighboring geothermal power plant for injection.

  • Engineering and design
  • Permitting support
  • Estimating
  • Scheduling

The Initial Commercial Plant project was timed to coincide with a projected increase in lithium demand due to increased adoptation of electric and hybrid automobile technology. The project was more environmentally friendly than other mineral production processes. Simbol Materials believed that the project had potential to increase revenue streams from geothermal power plants of Southern California and to decrease the United States' dependence on international sources of strategic minerals.

This was a greenfield project. Therefore site development, access, utilities and administrative facilities were part of the FEP-2 design and analysis.