Lithium, known as “white gold,” is a crucial component of the energy sector, powering lithium-ion batteries and electric vehicles. With an increasing demand for cleaner energy sources, lithium has become highly sought after. Lithium is a versatile, silver-white soft metal stored in mineral oil to prevent corrosion.
Lithium is obtained through electrolysis, isolating it from a mixture of potassium chloride and lithium chloride. Lithium finds application in lubricating greases, glass, ceramics, metallurgy, nuclear fusion, and as medication for bipolar disorder. Direct lithium extraction (DLE) is a promising technology for brine extraction. DLE offers advantages such as reduced freshwater usage, shorter production times, higher recovery rates, and improved product purity.
The demand for lithium is projected to rise significantly from 500,000 to 3-4 million metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) by 2030. Chile leads with ninety-two million metric tons of lithium reserves, while Australia is the largest global producer. Countries like the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, and the United Kingdom have explored their lithium resources. However, the lithium supply chain relies heavily on countries outside the United States, causing an imbalance. Mines specializing in graphite, cobalt, nickel, rare earth elements (REEs), manganese, copper, silicon, chromium, and zinc are in high demand.The rise in electric vehicles, energy storage systems, and battery-intensive applications drives the need for lithium. It is a transformative force in the energy sector, shaping our transportation and communication systems. Lithium’s role in the energy economy is undeniable. Sustainable mining practices, increased recycling, and research and development are crucial to meeting the growing demand. Lithium has the power to drive us towards a greener future.