Properties of Lithium
- November 19, 2021
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Properties of Lithium
Subject – Science and Tech
Context – Lithium prices may rise further on supply shortage
- lithium (Li), chemical element of Group 1 (Ia) in the periodic table, the alkali metal group, lightest of the solid elements.
- It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal.
- Under standard conditions, it is the lightest metal and the lightest solid element.
- Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly reactive and flammable, and must be stored in vacuum, inert atmosphere or inert liquid such as purified kerosene or mineral oil.
- When cut, it exhibits a metallic luster, but moist air corrodes it quickly to a dull silvery gray, then black tarnish.
- It never occurs freely in nature, but only in (usually ionic) compounds.
- Due to its solubility as an ion, it is present in ocean water and is commonly obtained from brines.
- Lithium metal is isolated electrolytically from a mixture of lithium chloride and potassium chloride.
- Lithium takes an active part in many reactions with organic and inorganic reactants. It reacts with oxygen to form monoxide and peroxide.
- Metallic Lithium reacts extremely vigorously with water.
- It has high specific heat which is the calorific capacity.
- It has very low density and low viscosity.
- Lithium is found only in salts and minerals.
Applications of lithium
- Lithium and its compounds have several industrial applications, including heat-resistant glass and ceramics, lithium grease lubricants, flux additives for iron, steel and aluminium production, lithium batteries, and lithium-ion batteries. These uses consume more than three-quarters of lithium production.
- Lithium is present in biological systems in trace amounts; its functions are uncertain. Lithium salts have proven to be useful as a mood stabilizer and antidepressant in the treatment of mental illness such as bipolar disorder.
- Bromine and lithium chloride together form concentrated brine which absorbs the humidity under high temperature. Brine is used in the manufacturing of air conditioning systems.
- Alloys of the metal with manganese, cadmium, copper, and aluminium are used to make aircraft’s parts.
To know about Lithium reserves in India, please refer September 2021 DPN.
- Lithium Triangle is an intersection of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina, known for high quality salt flats.
- Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, Salar de Atacama in Chile and Salar de Arizaro in Argentina contains over 45%of known global lithium reserves.
- Beneath Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat lies the world’s greatest lithium deposits.
- Bolivia, one of South America’s poorest countries, envisions development by harvesting lithium on an industrial scale from underground saltwater brines.
- It can be mined from rock or processed from brine.
- Lithium dissolved in underground saline aquifers called “brine”, pumped to surface by wells and then allowed to evaporate in vast knee-deep ponds.