The Secret Treasure
It was one of the first three elements that appeared on the Earth straight after the Big Bang. The Lithium is detectable everywhere in the world, even though it is better to extract from South America, especially in Bolivia and Chile, since the large availability in the area allows great savings.
Lithium gives us the charge. It makes laptops and smartphones work. Also, it has become increasingly requested over the years even leading its price about 47% higher than last year’s average.
What is Lithium?
Lithium is a soft, silver-white metal which cannot be found in a “purely natural” state, but just in combination with other elements, inside a saline solution. Until a decade ago it was just known for its use in glass and ceramic productions, and perhaps someone could have heard about its benefits if used as an anti-depressant.
Anyway, nowadays it is noticeable on every smartphone, tablet or laptop data sheet under the heading “Battery”. Lithium allows the storage of a large amount of energy inside a very limited space, with no negative influence on the weight.
Concerning the electrochemical features, it is really efficient, that is to say, using and charging times are expected to be quick. No other items can achieve the same results.
The reason why Lithium is increasing in worth can be found in the recent sharp growth of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles. One of the most famous banks in the world, Goldman Sachs, has already stated that Lithium is “the new gasoline”.
It is relevant to say that Lithium is not a new source of energy, but just a new efficient way of storage, avoiding waste. Thanks to Lithium-Ion technology, there will be more and more vehicles moved by electricity; therefore, the demand of Lithium will raise considerably.
Just keep in mind that according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2050, there will be built about 100,000,000 electric vehicles each year. Moreover, Tesla Motors announced to increase their production of electric cars from 50,000 units in 2015 to 500,000 ones in 2018; Google and Apple are going to launch their electric car by the end of the decade too.
Aside from electric vehicles, last year Tesla introduced a new line of batteries for homeowners who want to store energy and use it when the price from the grid is higher or in the case of emergency.
Learn to Recycle
Lithium no-rechargeable batteries and Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries, which are spread worldwide, use only a few grams of Lithium. However, a car of 80 kW needs about 8 kg. Also, Lithium is highly appreciated with regards to the smart grid.
This explains the ongoing increase of the demand. But, this trend might lead the Lithium market to an overcapacity worldwide in a few decades. To prevent this, the solution is recycling Lithium from used batteries.
Lithium is 100% recyclable, but unfortunately, the current high costs do not boost many people to put this concept into practice. However, there exist some laboratories in Europe, the United States and Japan which are figuring out a way to recycle for cheaper rates. It would be a great opportunity to avoid waste.