Chlorella is single-celled green alga without flagella. The cells are
spherical in shape and are about 2 to 10 ㎛ in diameter. They require only carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight to photosynthesize like plants. They are very safe as they are even used as a dietary supplement in food.
One interesting characteristic of Chlorella is that they can precipitate many types of metal ions, including heavy metals and lithium, in their environment and convert them into carbonate forms (Li+ → Li2 CO3).
The bio-mineralization function of lithium was first screened in thousands of different subspecies of Chlorella. This innate function of Chlorella is further enhanced through genetic engineering. The special vector system and proprietary transgenic method used by Green Mineral Inc., produced the GMCM-L1 (Green Mineral Chlorella Miner for Lithium v1) line of Chlorella. The inserted transgene will be gene-silenced within 1 to 2 years so that they will be environmentally safe.
In our lab, GMCM-L1 could precipitate 70% of lithium ions and produce lithium carbonate crystals from recycled battery waste.
* The lithium carbonate crystals
are dyed by Sodium rhodizonate
to purple color
Up to 90% of the lithium from the lithium ore can be extracted but the remaining 10% is wasted. In the same vein, when recycling batteries,
all the heavy metals and lithium are extracted, but there is leftover lithium in the waste produced.
The leftover lithium in the waste produced by both processes is then extracted and converted to lithium carbonate by our lithium-recycling system, Li-BTS.
The chlorella within the lithium crystals will then be easily purified from the waste via filter, allowing for repeated use of Li-BTS.
Differently genetically modified chlorella currently under research will be used for various applications in the future.