chem-Logo
 
Discovery date1817  
Discovered byJohan August Arfvedson  
Origin of the nameThe name is derived from the Greek 'lithos' meaning stone.  
Allotropes 
GroupMelting point180.50°C, 356.90°F, 453.65 K 
PeriodBoiling point1342°C, 2448°F, 1615 K 
BlockDensity (g cm−3)0.534 
Atomic numberRelative atomic mass6.94  
State at 20°CSolid Key isotopes7Li 
Electron configuration[He] 2s1 CAS number7439-93-2 
Properties of Lithium atom

Lithium is a chemical element with the symbol Li and atomic number 3. It belongs to the alkali metal group of the periodic table and is the lightest metal and lightest solid element. Lithium has several unique properties that make it valuable for various industrial, scientific, and technological applications. While other common alkali metals were found in plant matter, lithium was found in a mineral. This is said to explain how the word "lithos," which is Greek for "stone," came to be the name of the element. The picture is based on an alchemical representation of stone.

Appearance

It is soft, silvery metal. Of all the metals, it has the lowest density and react with Water violently.

Properties of Lithium:

Lightweight: Lithium is very light, making it an attractive choice for applications where weight is a critical factor.

Reactivity: It is a highly reactive metal, readily reacting with water and oxygen. Due to this reactivity, lithium is often stored in oil or inert gases to prevent its corrosion.

Low Density: Lithium has a low density, which contributes to its lightweight nature and makes it useful in aerospace applications.

Thermal Conductivity: It has high thermal conductivity, allowing it to effectively dissipate heat. This property is utilized in batteries and electronics.

Electrical Conductivity: Lithium is a good conductor of electricity, making it useful in batteries and electronics.

Flame Color: When burned, lithium produces a distinctive crimson-red flame.

Uses of Lithium:

Batteries: One of the most well-known uses of lithium is in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are widely used in electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops, cameras, and electric vehicles. The lightweight nature and high energy density of lithium-ion batteries make them ideal for portable electronics and transportation. Some non-rechargeable batteries for devices like heart pacemakers, toys, and clocks also include lithium.

Medical Applications: Lithium compounds are used in the treatment of mood disorders like bipolar disorder. Lithium carbonate and lithium citrate are used as mood stabilizers. Although the exact mechanism by which lithium carbonate acts on the brain is still unclear, it is utilized in medications to treat manic depression. Hydrogen is stored in lithium hydride to be utilized as a fuel.

Ceramics and Glass: Lithium compounds are used in ceramics and glass production to improve the properties of the materials, such as enhancing their thermal shock resistance and lowering their melting points. In specialty glasses and glass ceramics, lithium oxide is used.

Aerospace Industry: Due to its low density and high thermal conductivity, lithium is used in aerospace applications, including aircraft and spacecraft components, where weight reduction and heat management are crucial.

Nuclear Industry: Lithium-6 is used as a component in certain types of nuclear reactors and as a source of tritium in fusion reactions.

Alloys: Lithium is added to some alloys to improve their strength, ductility, and corrosion resistance. For example, it can be added to aluminum or magnesium alloys. Aluminum and magnesium are combined with lithium metal to create alloys that increase strength while reducing weight. For armour plating, a magnesium-lithium alloy is employed. High-speed trains, bicycle frames, and aircraft all use aluminum-lithium alloys.

Greases and Lubricants: Lithium-based greases and lubricants are used in various mechanical applications due to their high melting points and resistance to water. An all-purpose and high-temperature lubricant is lithium stearate is used.

Pyrotechnics: Lithium compounds are used to create red and crimson colors in fireworks and flares.

Electronics: Apart from batteries, lithium is used in various electronic components, such as semiconductors and special-purpose batteries like coin cells used in watches and calculators.

Air Conditioning and Refrigeration: Lithium bromide is used in absorption refrigeration systems for air conditioning and refrigeration in some industrial applications. One of the most hygroscopic substances known, lithium chloride—along with lithium bromide—is utilized in industrial drying systems and air conditioning.

It's important to note that while lithium has many valuable applications, its extraction and processing can have environmental impacts, and the responsible and sustainable management of lithium resources is an ongoing concern, especially as demand for lithium-ion batteries continues to grow with the increasing use of electronic devices and electric vehicles.

Natural abundance

Although it is not found in nature as a metal, lithium is mixed and found in minute amounts in almost all igneous rocks as well as in the water of many mineral springs. The minerals of the most significance that include lithium are spodumene, petalite, lepidolite, and amblygonite.

The majority of lithium is now produced in Chile using brines that, when combined with sodium carbonate, generate lithium carbonate. By electrolyzing molten lithium chloride and potassium chloride, the metal is created.

History

The first lithium mineral, petalite (LiAlSi4O10), was stumbled upon by the Brazilian explorer Jozé Bonifácio de Andralda e Silva on the Swedish island of Utö in the1790s. This intriguing mineral showcased a brilliant crimson flame when tossed into a fire, piquing curiosity among scientists.

In 1817, Johan August Arfvedson of Stockholm conducted a thorough analysis of petalite and unveiled a previously unknown metal, which he named lithium. Recognizing it as a new alkali metal, Arfvedson noted its resemblance to sodium but faced challenges in separating it through electrolysis.

In 1821, William Brande managed to obtain a small quantity of lithium through electrolysis but not enough for detailed measurements. It wasn't until 1855 that German chemist Robert Bunsen and British chemist Augustus Matthiessen successfully achieved bulk production of lithium by electrolyzing molten lithium chloride.

Unveil the fascinating journey of lithium's discovery, from its striking crimson flame to its transformation into a widely accessible element, shaping various aspects of modern science and industry.