Marcellus Shale could supply 40% of US lithium — study

By Hannah Northey | 05/08/2024 07:54 AM EDT

The National Energy Technology Laboratory says wastewater from oil and gas wells could help meet a growing demand for battery materials.

Work continues at a shale gas well drilling site.

A well drilling site is seen in the Marcellus Shale region near St. Marys, Pennsylvania. Keith Srakocic/AP

Wastewater from large oil and gas hubs like the Marcellus Shale could emerge as a major source of lithium for batteries, according to new federal research.

Two regions of Pennsylvania that overlay the shale formation could pump out enough lithium-rich wastewater to meet up to 40 percent of the nation’s current domestic consumption of the mineralthe study from the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory found.

Lab researchers said the findings published in Scientific Reports are significant given growing demand for lithium used in batteries for everything from grid storage to laptops to electric vehicles.


“This was the first paper to actually show that there is an economic value to extracting lithium” from oil and gas wastewater in Pennsylvania, said Justin Mackey, the project’s lead investigator and a contract researcher with NETL.