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Cobalt and Lithium speciation, toxicity, and Bacterial community Regulations at the sediment-water-Interface

Project description

Studying lithium and cobalt toxicity in aquatic systems

The development and production of batteries are critical for the transition to a carbon-neutral economy, increasing requirements for lithium and cobalt. The mining processes release these chemicals into the aquatic environment. Sediments of the aquatic system play the dual role of the dynamic sinks or sources for these elements, depending on varying environmental conditions. Funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the CoLiBRI project aims to investigate the toxicity of lithium and cobalt under different environmental conditions. CoLiBRI focuses on the impact of temperature and pH on the distribution and characteristics of lithium and cobalt, the toxic effects on zebrafish, and the lithium and cobalt-related microbial community changes in the sediments.


In the EU, transport is responsible for a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. For the transition to a climate neutral economy, battery development and production strategies are thus important. By 2030, the EU expects an increased requirement of 18 times more lithium and 5 times more cobalt. These elements are released into the aquatic environment by mining processes and wastewater discharge. In aquatic systems, sediments are important and dynamic sinks or sources for such elements, depending on varying environmental conditions. The chemical state, bioavailability, and toxicity of these elements in aquatic systems is highly influenced by environmental parameters such as pH and temperature, which in turn are influenced by climate change. The goal is to investigate the toxicity of lithium and cobalt in aquatic systems under different environmental conditions. This will be addressed in 3 research objectives: 1) Investigation of the impact of temperature and pH on the distribution and chemical characteristics of lithium and cobalt within aquatic systems 2) Analysis of toxic effects of lithium and cobalt to zebrafish 3) Evaluation of lithium and cobalt related microbial community changes within the sediment. To address these objectives, we will perform a long-term exposure with zebrafish to selected sediments spiked with lithium and cobalt in an aquarium system capable of monitoring and regulating different water parameters. The toxicity will be determined with the zebrafish embryo toxicity test. Gene-expression analysis will reveal sub-lethal toxic effects of the selected elements. Bioaccumulation and content of lithium and cobalt in water and sediment will be quantified by ICP-MS. Changes in the sediment microbial community will be investigated by metagenome fingerprinting. With this interdisciplinary holistic approach we aim to improve environmental risk assessment of sediments contaminated with lithium and cobalt, particularly in regard to climate change.


Net EU contribution
€ 206 887,68
Fakultetsgatan 1
70182 Orebro

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Östra Sverige Östra Mellansverige Örebro län
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Partners (1)