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Saturday, 30 January 2016

Lithium

Lithium is the lightest metal in nature and the least dense solid element.

Because lithium is so light, it must be stored in petroleum jelly. Sodium and potassium can be stored in oil but lithium will just float on the oil and not be protected by it.

Lithium floating in oil By W. Oelen - http://woelen.homescience.net/science/index.html, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15359548

Johan August Arfwedson, then working in the laboratory of the chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius, detected the presence of a new element while analyzing petalite ore in 1817. Berzelius gave the alkaline material the namet "lithium" (Greek lithos, meaning "stone") because it was discovered from a mineral, while other common alkali metals were first discovered in plant tissue.

The first major application of lithium was in high-temperature lithium greases for aircraft engines or similar applications in World War II and shortly after. This use was supported by the fact that lithium-based soaps have a higher melting point than other alkali soaps, and are less corrosive than calcium based soaps.

Half of the world's known reserves of lithium are located in Bolivia. The country's Uyuni Desert has 5.4 million tonnes of lithium.

The largest producer of lithium in the world is Chile, which extracts it from brine at the Atacama Salt Flat.

In the United States lithium is recovered from brine pools in Nevada.

An average laptop has five grams of lithium, and a cell phone has about half a gram of lithium.

Batteries using lithium have twice the capacity of traditional nickel cadmium batteries.

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