Lithium is a chemical element with the symbol LI and atomic number 3. it is soft silvery white alkali
Lithium is the lightest metal and has the greatest electromagnetic potential.
Currently lithium ion is the dominant type of rechargeable batteries used in EVs
Highly reactive and must be stored in a vacuum.
Molten lithium is more reactive than the solid form.
65 % of lithium is used for battery production.
Cornish lithium ltd has found significant levels in the hot springs near Redruth.
Production is to start 2026, approx 10,0000 tonnes a year.
British lithium company is drilling near St Dennis Cornwall
The UK needs 80,000 tonnes of lithium by 2030
2 major projects
Lithium in geothermal waters
United downs is Cornish lithium flag ship exploration site for lithium enriched geothermal waters
Extraction of lithium from geo waters
Twelve heads bore holes area of chasewater.
The granite rock beneath Cornwall is rich in lithium.
3 main locations: Penryn, united downs and St Dennis
Uses of Lithium
The most important industrial use of lithium is metallurgy.
During the metallurgy process, active lithium is used as a scavenger element for the removal of impurities. It is especially used in the refining of metals such as copper, iron, zinc, etc.
It helps remove a number of non-metallic impurities such as oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon, etc.
Lithium when alloyed with other elements, such as Magnesium and Aluminium increases their strength vastly and also, makes the material lighter in weight.
- Lubricating Grease
Lithium is also used in manufacturing lubricating greases.
These greases are able to withstand high temperatures and are therefore used in aircraft engines, especially during World War II.
- Silicon Nano-Welding technique
The silicon nano-welding technique used in electronic components, especially electric batteries also utilizes lithium which effectively helps in perfecting this technique.
- Iron Casting
Lithium is used as an additive to foundry sand as it reduces veining for iron casting. Lithium is used to increase the fluidity of the continuous casting mold flux slags when added as an additive.
- Non-Rechargeable Batteries
Lithium is widely used in the production of anodes in many non-rechargeable batteries.
The lightweight and large negative electrochemical potential of lithium make it suitable to be used as the negative electrode in the pure form or in combination with other metals.
- Lithium Storage Battery
Lithium storage batteries is also made using lithium.
These are high-power rechargeable batteries and are widely used in electric cars, mobile devices, etc. The separation of electrodes is achieved by using solvent-free conducting polymers such as LiCoO2.
The smaller lithium storage batteries are especially used in cell phones, laptops, cameras, etc.
- Lithium is a highly reactive and flammable metal due to which it is used in pyrotechnics. It serves as an oxidizer in red fireworks.
- Organic Synthesis
Lithium is also used in organic synthesis at both laboratory and industrial scales.
It is especially used as an initiator in polymerization processes such as the production of rubber. It also finds its use in manufacturing other organic products such as pharmaceuticals.
- Ceramics and Glass
Lithium oxide considerably reduces the melting point and viscosity of silica and is used as a flux in silica processing. It also improves the physical properties of the glazes such as heat resistance.
- Gas Streams
Being hygroscopic in nature lithium chloride and lithium bromide are used as sorbents for gas streams. Also, lithium hydroxide and peroxide are used in closed spaces such as submarines, spaceships, etc. for purification of air and removal of carbon dioxide.
Lithium fluoride is specially used in manufacturing optics for visibility in infra-red, ultra-violet, and vacuum ultraviolet ranges.
The crystals are grown artificially for this purpose as they have the lowest refractive indices and farthest transmission in the UV range.
Warfare & Aerospace Uses
- Thermonuclear Weapon
Thermonuclear weapons also utilize lithium hydrides containing Lithium-6 as fuel for fusion reaction as it provides a source of tritium and also acts as a neutron absorber.
- Coolant in Nuclear Processes
Lithium has the highest specific heat capacity of all the solids, around 3.58 kilogram-kelvin due to which it has high heat absorption capacity and is used as a coolant in heat transfer applications, especially in nuclear processes.
- Fuel for Rocket Propellants
Complex hydrides of lithium such as Li[AlH4] are used as solid fuels as well as high energy additives for rocket propellants.
- Treatment of Bipolar Disorder
Lithium is also known for its mode stabilizing properties. It is used in the treatment of mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, as anti-depressant drugs owing to its mood-stabilizing properties.
- Air Purifier
Lithium is used in air purifiers for removing impurities such as carbon dioxide from the air by forming lithium carbonates.
- Electronic Devices
It is used in the manufacturing of lithium storage batteries inserted in laptops, cell phones, cameras, and other such devices that are rechargeable and require long-term use.
It is used in spectacles especially made for infrared, ultraviolet, and vacuum ultraviolet ranges.
The special glassware used for warming food in the microwave is also made using lithium, which improves their thermal properties