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Lightest metal: production - history - uses


Lightest metal: production - history - uses What is the lightest metal? Lithium is one of the lightest metals

Lithium is one of the lightest metals

One of the lightest known metals in the universe is lithium; where its atomic number is only 3; Each of its atoms contains three protons in its nucleus. Lithium is the first alkali metal in the order of the metals, and it is located in the first group of the periodic table, and its color is silvery-white, and it is very soft and light to a large degree, and therefore melts at very low temperatures, and many of its derivatives and compounds are produced in large quantities to serve commercial purposes, It is one of the lightest solid-state elements in the periodic table.

Cosmologists believe that lithium was one of the three basic elements that were present in the universe when it was born 13.7 billion years ago; At the time, the so-called Big Bang occurred, which led to filling the universe with large amounts of hot hydrogen and helium gases, in addition to a small percentage of lithium molecules.



Lithium production

Lithium can be obtained from a solution of salt in water, and it is found in the form of natural salts in mineral springs, and it is present in sea water at the rate of one molecule for every ten million molecules. It is difficult to find free lithium in nature, due to its great chemical activity; It reacts quickly, and when exposed to atmospheric air, it quickly reacts with the nitrogen in the air, turning directly into lithium nitride, or reacting with other materials. Lithium makes up only 0.0007% of the metal content in the Earth's crust.

Lithium is a natural metal present in small quantities in plants, and for this reason, it is transferred from them continuously to the bodies of animals and then to the human body as well, and it is not toxic to living organisms in particular, but eating a very large amount of it may cause death, and it is common to give this metal Deliberately targeting people with many mental illnesses, in particular; It has proven very successful in this regard.

There was commercial use of lithium, but until the nineties of the twentieth century its commercial production in large quantities was almost limited to the United States of America; Where it was extracted from mineral deposits and sold, but with the beginning of the twenty-first century many countries became able to compete in the market for lithium production; Most of its exports come from countries, the most important of which are Australia, Chile, and Portugal, and the territory of Bolivia alone contains half of the world's reserves of this mineral, but it is not produced in large quantities. It is possible to add hydrochloric acid to lithium to produce a secondary compound, lithium chloride.



The history of lithium

The name of the mineral lithium comes from the Greek word “lithos”, which means “stone” or “rock”, and the reason for deriving the name of the mineral from the word is that it is present in very small quantities in almost all types of rocks. This element was discovered by the Swedish scientist Johan August Arvidsson in 1817 while studying the mineral petalite, and the mineral petalite was discovered by a Brazilian naturalist named Jozé Bonifácio (English: Jozé Bonifácio) in the nineties of the eighteenth century, and it has a color ranging from white to gray And that it glows with a crimson light when thrown into fire, and Johann Arvidson realized in 1817 that this mineral contained a previously unknown chemical element.

Arvidson tried hard to separate this element from the rest of the components of the mineral petalite, but he failed in that, and he could only separate one of the salts with which lithium was mixed, yet the discovery is attributed to him, and in fact he was the first chemist who succeeded in isolating lithium from any other chemical element is Britain's Robert Bunsen; In 1855, he was able to transmit an electric current in a lithium chloride mixture to separate the chlorine molecules from the lithium.



Uses of lithium metal

1- Industrial uses

Lithium has entered some modern industries; It is used in the manufacture of some types of dry disc batteries, such as watch batteries. The lithium battery has a very record life when compared to ordinary batteries; It has a lifespan of about four to ten times that of a normal steel battery. In fact, lithium-ion batteries are a relatively recent invention that appeared in the 1980s, and they have become widely accepted and well-researched for their use in powering small electronic machines.

Lithium batteries became famous at the beginning of the twenty-first century for their ability to start catastrophic fires when laptop batteries made of this element were charged for too long, but the chemical equation for lithium batteries has since been changed to make them safer.

The lithium element is used in the production of what is called lithium grease or lithium soap; When mixed with oil, it becomes able to lubricate all kinds of high-temperature machines, including aircraft engines and other transportation and communication mechanisms at the beginning of the twentieth century, and one of its secondary compounds, lithium chloride, is also used to absorb carbon dioxide inside shuttles and spacecraft, and this can also be mixed with oil. Metal with aluminium, copper and manganese to make a durable mixture for airframes. Lithium compounds are also used in the manufacture of special types of high-strength glass and ceramics.



2- Medicinal uses

Lithium is combined with many types of enzymes, vitamins, hormones, and medications. This is because of its ability to participate in many chemical reactions in the human body, and it is popular for its use in treatment and medical fields. Lithium is used in particular in the treatment of mental illnesses, especially bipolar disorder, chronic depression, and schizophrenia. It can also be used in the treatment of blood diseases such as anemia and its cells, as well as digestive problems, sometimes headaches, alcoholism, and liver diseases.