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Alkali Labs
Unlocking domestic lithium supply with biology
Founded
2023
Employees*
2
Funding to Date*
$275,000
* Data source: Crunchbase
CEO Luis Valencia
"There are vast untapped domestic lithium reserves in saline groundwater that is unusable for agriculture and human consumption. By harnessing biology's ion chemistry we can extract enough lithium to fuel the renewable energy revolution."
A typical oil well can discard up to $40 worth of lithium-rich brine for every $100 of crude oil it produces.

Oil wells are not the first thing you think of when you think of lithium sources, but pumping oil out of the ground actually requires a lot of water, either to fracture the rock or to push out the oil of old wells. That water is often locally sourced from deep underground, and has to be properly disposed of and reinjected back down. Coincidentally, this water also contains a lot of lithium, and is a ripe opportunity for on-shore lithium mining, if there were a safe and non-toxic approach to extracting the lithium…

Alkali labs was founded by a duo of synthetic biologists, Jacob Roberts and Luis Valencia, to engineer a scalable, decentralized method to extract lithium from oil field brine using safe, biological processes. They can sequester the lithium (or other minerals of interest) in ways that are not economically feasible–nor environmentally allowable–with conventional methods. Alkali’s solution is to tackle these challenges from the ground up, starting with the most scalable microbes, and engineering scalable bioprocesses on top.