Lithium: the omnipresent energy

Lithium: the omnipresent energy

It was discovered in 1817 by the Swedish chemist Johan August Arfwedson, but it is in the 21st century that lithium is demonstrating its full potential. Today it is known and used abundantly in tools that are essential to modern life, such as smartphones, computers, electric cars, or even pacemakers, toys and watches. They all have one thing in common - lithium-ion batteries, which combine compactness with high energy density.

With its soft feel and shiny, silvery appearance, lithium is the lightest and least dense metal among the solid elements. It belongs to group 1 of the periodic table, the alkali metals, with the symbol Li, atomic number 3 and atomic mass 7. Like other metals in this group, such as sodium or potassium, it reacts vigorously with water, forming hydroxides.

Although it was first localised in petalite, it can also occur in other minerals such as spodumene, lepidolite and amblygonite. It is also found in brine deposits, in the form of salts in the waters of mineral springs or combined in small quantities in almost all igneous (or magmatic) rocks.

The fact that it was discovered in a mineral, while other common alkali metals were found in plant materials, explains for many the origin of its name, since in Greek "lithos" means "stone".

The result of its combination with other elements is also very important in various practical applications. When combined, for example, with aluminium and/or magnesium, it makes it possible to obtain stronger metal alloys and make them lighter, for use in armour, aviation, bicycle frames or high-speed trains.

The social and economic reach of lithium is clear when you realise that it underpins the energy of digitalisation. Which is the basis of new materials. But it now has a whole new environmental dimension when it demonstrates its ability to replace fossil fuels in mobility, thus contributing to the world's major decarbonisation targets.

Some 200 years after Arfwedson's discovery, lithium has become ubiquitous in our lives and in our future.

Sources:

https://www.britannica.com/science/lithium-chemical-element

https://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/3/lithium

Find out more

Pyro/hydro metallurgical based technology

Pyro/hydro metallurgical based technology

Sustainability

Sustainability

Where we come from

Where we come from

Electrolysis based technology

Electrolysis based technology

What we aspire to

What we aspire to

What drives us

What drives us