Lithium carbonate precipitation from a Li2SO4 solution in a stirred crystallizer in semi-batch processes was investigated and compared using a heterogeneous CO2 reaction and homogeneous Na2CO3 reaction. Nucleation and crystal growth were successfully monitored by an inline Particle Track based on the focused beam reflectance measurement technique. The results obtained indicate that the particle size decreased with an increase in mixing speed for both precipitation processes. However, the CO2 feed rate in the heterogeneous reaction and the pumping rate of Na2CO3 in the homogeneous reaction did not have a significant impact on the particle size distribution. Temperature and the final pH play critical roles in precipitation when using CO2 as a reactant. High alkaline conditions are needed to induce heterogeneous precipitation. The lithium recovery with homogeneous precipitation was higher than with heterogeneous precipitation, probably due to the gas-liquid mass transfer phenomena of absorption influencing carbon dioxide conversion to carbonate ions in heterogeneous precipitation. Agglomerates of leaf-shaped primary crystals were mainly obtained.
- Carbon dioxide
- Lithium carbonate