Lithium (Li) is an alkaline element. In its pure form, it is a soft, silver-white metal, which oxidises rapidly in water or air. It is the lightest solid metal, with a low melting point and is reactive.
Applications and uses of lithium
Its main industrial use is in the form of lithium stearate, as a thickener for lubricating greases. It has many other applications such as ceramics, as a component in the formulation of porcelain enamels, or as an additive to extend the performance of alkaline batteries, although its main applications are in heat-conducting alloys and electric batteries. Lithium is a moderately abundant element in the earth's crust.
Lithium recycling is complicated, and traditional methods are not ideal. The most common method (pyrometallurgical) is scalable and works with all batteries, but it uses too much energy to incinerate the batteries and can produce toxic fumes. One of the alternatives is so-called "direct recycling": that is, the battery is deconstructed and the anode and cathode are retained for reconditioning.
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