Lithium is the third element in the Periodic Table and derives its name from lithos: the Greek word for stone. At about half the density of water, lithium is the lightest of all of the metals.
Economic concentrations of lithium occur in salts from surface and subsurface brines, and in granitic pegmatites in the lithium minerals petalite, spodumene, amblygonite and lepidolite.
Avalon’s Separation Rapids property is a potential source of petalite, and the fourth largest deposit of its kind found in the world.
Applications of Lithium:
- Glass and Ceramics: The addition of lithium in petalite to glass and ceramic batch compositions results in substantial energy savings by lowering the melt temperature and accelerating the melt process. Lithium is also a key ingredient in production of zero-expansion (thermal shock resistant) glass, clay cookware and glazes.
- Lithium Batteries: Lithium’s strongly ionic character is exploited in conventional and rechargeable long-life batteries used in laptop computers, cell phones, tablets and scientific equipment. A rapidly growing end use is in electric cars, to replace alternative hydrogen storage devices as a source of electricity.
- Medicinal Uses: Lithium is widely used in anti-depression medications, and has also been used to remove uric acid from the body.
- Metallurgical: Lithium is used in the potlines in electrolytic refining of aluminum to substantially reduce the electrical costs of the process. Lithium metal, when added to aluminum, is also used to create a light, yet strong aerospace alloy.
- Lubricants and Chemicals: Since the 1940s, lithium has replaced sodium in lubricants, resulting in waterproof greases. It is further used in the manufacture of neoprene rubber, air conditioning systems and sanitation chemicals.
- Fusion Energy: Liquid lithium metal’s high specific heat capacity and low melting point make it the best coolant for a fusion reactor: a potential fuel of the future for pollution-free energy generation.