The Vulcan "Zero Carbon Lithium" project will be based in a German part of the so-called Upper Rhine Rift, in the states of Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate - a region the organisers say contains Europe's largest lithium resource and one of the largest worldwide.
Vulcan will pump hot lithium-rich brine to the surface there, then use renewable electricity and heat to drive lithium extraction using its proprietary technique, with excess renewable energy as a saleable by-product that can be fed back into the grid.
The carbon footprint of the production process could even be negative, say the founders, noting that the resulting lithium can be used in a number of ways, most notably in the production of lithium-ion batteries to meet the demand from the automotive and other sectors.
Chief executive of EIT InnoEnergy Germany, Christian Müller, said: "Batteries are a key technology of our time. Driven particularly by the demand of the e-mobility sector, Europe's share of global battery cell production is forecast to reach almost 15% by 2024, overtaking the US and Asia excluding China. By using that momentum to accelerate the development of the European battery value chain, we are making our economy more resilient to future crises.
"The CO2-neutral development of our own lithium deposits is a crucial building block for a sustainable and strong European battery industry and will bring us significantly closer to meeting our 2030 climate goals. By further investing in Vulcan, and the other lithium mining projects, Europe could cover most of its anticipated lithium demand from regional resources."
In addition to direct financial support of an undisclosed amount, EIT InnoEnergy will be assisting Vulcan in raising further capital, and helping to establish connections to companies in Europe's battery supply chain.
Horst Kreuter, co-founder of Vulcan Energy Resources, said: "Our goal is to play an integral role in enabling a zero-carbon future by decarbonizing the currently high carbon production footprint of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. We have therefore carried out a very thorough global search for the perfect location - and found it.
"Not only does the Upper Rhine region contain one of the largest lithium reservoirs globally, it is also within easy reach of many of the world's leading auto manufacturers, and many other industrial players, all of whom have a hugely growing demand for emission-free lithium. We see a massive opportunity for the region to become one of the key centres of the European battery industry itself, which would result in the creation of thousands of secure and highly qualified jobs."