lithium chemical uses and popularity

Learning Lithium: Uses and Popularity

We have all heard about Lithium in school during chemistry class. But how much of it do we know about? If you are looking for a quick crash course and the latest development, you have come to the right place.

Discovered in the year 1817, lithium got its name from the Greek word ‘Lithios’ meaning ‘stone’ since it is present in small amounts in almost all rocks. Lithium, which is also referred to as Li in the periodic table, is a compound used for a variety of reasons. It has relevance in the consumer goods market in the form of medication for mental illnesses and is also used to create powerful modern batteries which are used right from the cars you drive to the cell phones you use. Going by this, it is safe to say that this compound is very useful. 

Along with these popular uses, lithium metal is used to form alloys with magnesium or aluminum which further comes into use for trains, bicycles, aircraft, etc. Glass and ceramic making also involves Lithium carbonate. 

Medical Uses 

While this may come as surprising, Lithium is approved by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) to be used in medications(prescribed) to help with mental illnesses. Some of these conditions include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and even in some cases if needed anxiety. 

As per healthcare research reports, It is believed that Lithium helps increase the activity of chemical messengers in the brain thereby helping with conditions associated with mental illnesses. In simple words, some would say that it acts as a mood stabilizer. Lithium has also proved to be helpful in cases of individuals who resort to self-harm or aggressive behavior. 

These tablets cannot be given over the counter and are strictly prescribed after proper medical consideration and advice. It comes in the form of Lithium Carbonate (regular or slow-release tablets) or Lithium citrate (liquid). 

Lithium for Batteries

Since Lithium has the highest electrochemical potential compared to other metals, it is quite popular when it comes to creating batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable since their electrons and ions go back into negative electrodes without any fuss. Another advantage is that it is a highly reactive element, therefore it can store a lot of energy in its atomic bonds. They are known to hold their charge well and, it only loses about 5% of its charge per month, giving you hundred plus charge and discharge cycles.

It is also lighter in comparison to other metals due to which it is perfect to use in the case of cell phones, laptops, iPods, digital cameras, or other machinery that may require several batteries at a time.  Although lithium did make its debut on the news recently with concerns about it bursting and causing injury or damage. This had indeed become a major cause of concern; however, such cases are very rare.  

Market Value and Potential

The global Lithium demand forecast is said to increase hugely in a span of 5-10 years. According to a market forecast report by Stallion market research, the global Lithium market currently stands at 300 kilotons in 2020 and is projected to grow at 3.2% annually from the year 2020 to 2030.

Due to the rise seen in the Lithium-ion battery market, high demand for Lithium is seen mainly in Electric Vehicles. 

However, a new problem has slowly started arising. As per market analysis, lithium supply is available in plenty and is expected to even triple by the year 2025, however, there is a major concern that with growing demands even a triple fold availability won’t suffice. 

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