Valley high school grad innovates lithium extraction device, presents patent to Salton Sea Authority

Just a month out of high school, Palm Desert teen Clay Jones has already developed an innovation that could help bring clean energy from the Salton Sea.

On Friday, Jones will present the patent to the Salton Sea Authority, in “an effort to achieve a cleaner Salton Sea and Coachella Valley environment for everyone,” according to a press release about the event.

Jones was part of a group of high school students kayaking across the Salton Sea in 2020 to raise awareness of the looming environmental problems.

While paddling, the young scientist considered “using photons to activate electrons in orbit, making lithium-absorbing materials more attractive to lithium ions suspended in the sea.”

The Salton Sea

That journey led to the development of the innovation. On Friday, Jones demonstrated his device to Congresswoman Raul Ruiz and representatives of the Salton Sea Authority.

News Channel 3 and anchor Angela Chen have been reporting for years on the problems surrounding the Salton Sea, including the environmental and health aspects of the impending ecological disaster, as well as the potential for harvesting “white gold” or lithium. See our special section, The Salton Sea Projecthere.

Tonight on News Channel 3 at 5:00 PM Angela Chen shows you how Jones’ innovation works and what it could mean for the Coachella Valley.

ln Depth coverage: Troubled Waters: The ‘White Gold Rush’ on the Salton Sea is slow but holds big lithium reward

Plans to tax lithium in development

On Wednesday evening, California lawmakers approved the $3.8 billion state budget plan. Part of the budget includes a new lithium tax being developed in the Salton Sea.

Lithium developer Controlled Thermal Resources said the tax is too high and will instead push people to buy lithium from China.

“CTR is confident that an independent investigation into the lithium market and tax mechanisms will make it abundantly clear to Governor Newsom that this additional tax, as it stands, will have serious implications for the development of ‘Lithium Valley’. … Supporting a tax that makes lithium imports from China cheaper for automakers…will destroy this promising California industry before it even starts.”

– Statement of CTR

The office of local MP Eduardo Garcia, who helped push the budget, supports the tax framework by saying:

“We needed to make sure that when this Lithium Valley industry emerges, our economically underserved and environmentally disadvantaged community is not left behind – this legislation achieves that. Years of discussion and gathering input with industry, the County of Imperial, residents and other stakeholders have led to the development of this tax framework.”

Assembly Member Garcia

Related Coverage: Leaders Urge Public Participation in Salton Sea Lithium Mining Planning

Input from residents wanted

In April of this year, News Channel 3 reporter Jake Ingrassia reported that local leaders and energy representatives are calling on the public to participate in planning for lithium mining in the Salton Sea.

The news came after a multi-day summit in UCR Palm Desert, where more than 200 people gathered to discuss the problems of the Salton Sea. could soon become the largest lithium source in the world

Officials say local residents should have a say before drilling into the so-called “white gold” mine.

Find comprehensive coverage of the Salton Sea project here:

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