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|Atomic Number:||3||Atomic Symbol:||Li|
|Atomic Weight:||6.941||Electron Configuration:||2-1|
|Melting Point:||180.54oC||Boiling 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.
SourcesIt 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
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.
UsesSince 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.
CostThe metal is priced at about $300/lb.