A feasibility study for the recovery of lithium from salt water with the protonated lithium titanium oxide ion-sieves was carried out in this work. Lithium ions (Li+) in LiTi2O4 having a similar ion density with H+ allow repeated exchanges and regeneration with high selectivity. By Li7 magic angle spinning solid-state magnetic resonance, it is apparent that chemical structure of lithium in the ion-sieves is not perturbed during the repeated Li+/H+ exchange processes. As the dissolution of titanium is negligible (< 0.1%), the secondary contamination during the capture process can be minimized. The ion-sieves exhibit lithium capture capacities of up to 9.5 mg/g during the repeated Li+/H+ exchanges with H0.23Li0.77Ti2O4/LiTi2O4 for 24 h, and the captured Li+ may be recovered in the form of Li2CO3. Accordingly, the lithium capture method developed in this work could be integrated with current desalination processes for valuable lithium recovery.
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