The global battle to reshape the lithium industry is sucking in oil producers, tech startups and entrenched mining giants, each jockeying to be the first to reinvent how a metal key to the green energy transition is produced.

A fleet of direct lithium extraction (DLE) technologies are on the verge of tapping salty brine deposits across Europe, Asia, North America and elsewhere that the U.S. Geological Survey estimates are filled with roughly 70% of the world's reserves of the metal.

At stake is influence over an industry expected to grow to more than $10 billion in annual revenue within the next decade as the successful DLE companies will supply lithium for electric vehicle batteries in hours or days, not months or longer as with existing large, water-intensive evaporation ponds and open-pit mines.