Geothermal Engineering Ltd (GEL) is moving forward with a trial of a pioneering lithium extraction plant at its United Downs geothermal site in Cornwall.

The pilot plant will use Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology to recover lithium from the geothermal water and will be developed in collaboration with Cornish Lithium Ltd.


The UK Government has invested in the project through the Getting Building Fund which supports a £4m collaboration between the two companies.

The project will design, procure and commission a pilot plant at the United Downs Deep Geothermal Project site. The aim is to demonstrate that lithium hydroxide, a key component of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, can be produced in Cornwall from naturally occurring geothermal water with a net zero carbon footprint.

Domestic production of this critical metal is vital for the UK to deliver its zero carbon and clean growth ambitions and the co-production of lithium with geothermal heat and power from the same geothermal source is an exciting opportunity for GEL and Cornwall.

The granite rocks beneath Cornwall are rich in lithium and heat. This project will trial environmentally-friendly DLE technology to remove lithium compounds from geothermal water that has been used to produce power at the site. Once the lithium has been extracted, the water will be reinjected into the rock.