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Dr. Salman Safarimohsenabad pouring liquid into a filtration setup

UAlberta's Dr. Salman Safarimohsenabad experimenting with lithium-rich brine

Clear brine in a test tube

Test tube containing lithium-rich brine


Lithium is an element that only exists as part of a compound with other elements, for example, lithium carbonate. Lithium bearing silicate minerals include petalite, spodumene, and lepidolite.

Age and Formation

Oilfield brines contain lithium carbonate that may be processed to produce lithium for commercial purposes. Lithium-rich waters are trapped in formations ranging in age from 227 - 541 million years old. The most promising brines are trapped in limestone and dolostone rocks that are 365 - 390 million years old.

Important properties

Lithium contracts when heated and withstands extreme temperatures. It is the lightest of all metals, adds strength to materials, and is a great conductor of heat and electricity. 


Lithium is a versatile element. It is used in consumer electronics, batteries, and molten carbonate fuel cells that generate electricity and heat in high temperature conditions. Lithium is in medications and medical devices like pacemakers. It is added to greases, metal sheeting for building aircraft, glass, porcelain and ceramics. It purifies the air in spacecraft and submarines, and is in parts of breathing apparati. Lithium is not produced in Alberta. However, companies are testing technologies for recovering lithium from Alberta brines.


It’s a Fact!

Lithium metal is so soft it can be cut with a knife.


Dr. Dan Alessi's Research Group at UAlberta Studies Lithium-rich Brines

Potential Lithium Production in Alberta

The Soft Drink 7-Up used to Contain Lithium

Where to find lithium

Map of Alberta showing where lithium may be found in oil and gas pools throughout the province