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Saudi Lithium Startup Lihytech Raises $6 Million in Funding

The new investment will be used to build a pilot startup facility to extract lithium from the Red Sea.

Lihytech, a Saudi-based lithium startup, has raised $6 million from Ma’aden and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Innovation Ventures.

The startup has a patented membrane-based lithium extraction technology developed by Professor Zhipig Lai at KAUST. The technology extracts alkali metal from seawater, brine, and red mud amongst other sources, while using a ceramic membrane to filter lithium ions.

“This technology has the potential to be a game-changer,” Kevin Cullen, vice president of KAUST Innovation, tells StartupScene. “Professor Zhiping and his team have found a way to make lithium extraction both technically and economically feasible. We are very pleased that Ma’aden will be joining KAUST Innovation Ventures in moving this technology forward and bringing it to market.”

With the adoption of electric vehicles and increased reliance on smartphones and electronic devices, lithium is becoming a highly demanded resource. According to the startup, demand is outstripping supply and global shortages are predicted in the next 30 years.

The startup’s extraction technology is anticipated to become significant to Saudi Arabia’s mining capabilities, further supporting the adoption of EVs and powering personal electronic devices to meet growing global demand.

The new investment will be used to build a pilot startup facility to extract lithium from the Red Sea.

The Saudi startup ecosystem has been booming last year. In 2022, the country attracted almost $1 billion, a 72% increase compared to 2021, according to the Saudi Arabia Venture Investment Report by Magnitt. The record funding is in line with the Saudi 2030 Vision to grow the country’s tech capabilities and transform to a digital economy.

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