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Lithium


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Atomic Number:3Atomic Symbol:Li
Atomic Weight:6.941Electron Configuration:2-1
Shells:2,1Filling Orbital:2s1
Melting Point:180.54oCBoiling Point:1347oC
Uses:Batteries, ceramics, lubricants

History

(Gr. lithos, stone) Discovered in 1817 by Johann Arfvedson of Sweden. Lithium is the lightest of all metals, with a density only about half that of water.

Sources

It does not occur free in nature; combined is is found in small units in nearly all igneous rocks and in the waters of many mineral springs. Lepidolite, spodumeme, petalite, and amblygonite are the more important minerals containing it.

Lithium is presently being recovered from brines of Searles Lake, in California, and from those in Nevada. Large deposits of quadramene are found in North Carolina. The metal is produced electrolytically from the fused chloride. Lithium is silvery in appearance, much like Na and K, other members of the alkali metal series. It reacts with water, but not as vigorously as sodium. Lithium imparts a beautiful crimson color to a flame, but when the metal burns strongly, the flame is a dazzling white.

Uses

Since World War II, the production of lithium metal and its compounds has increased greatly. Because the metal has the highest specific heat of any solid element, it has found use in heat transfer applications; however, it is corrosive and requires special handling. The metal has been used as an alloying agent, is of interest in synthesis of organic compounds, and has nuclear applications. It ranks as a leading contender as a battery anode material as it has a high electrochemical potential. Lithium is used in special glasses and ceramics. The glass for the 200-inch telescope at Mt. Palomar contains lithium as a minor ingredient. Lithium chloride is one of the most lyproscopic materials known, and it, as well as lithium bromide, is used in air conditioning and industrial drying systems. Lithium stearate is used as an all-purpose and high-temperature lubricant. Other lithium compounds are used in dry cells and storage batteries.

Cost

The metal is priced at about $300/lb.

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