The modern digital world has made electronics like smartphones, digital cameras, and laptops integral to day-to-day life. For instance, most people need smartphones because they facilitate communication, allow users to be socially active on various platforms, and help researchers save time and money by providing online resources, some of which are free. But, all these gadgets need batteries to run. And lithium metal is gaining popularity as an essential material in the future production of quality solid-state batteries. Keep reading to learn more about lithium metal and its applications in battery production technology.
What is Lithium Metal?
Lithium is a soft, silvery metal with a very low density. Its density is roughly half that of water, making it the lightest known metal. It reacts vigorously with water, resulting in highly flammable hydrogen and lithium hydrogen. Manufacturers are working towards making lithium metal batteries for portable electronic devices like laptops and mobile phones. Other products that are likely to rely on lithium batteries in the future include handheld power tools, kid's toys, and larger appliances like electrical energy storage systems and electric vehicles.
How Lithium Metal is Produced
Lithium metal production technology uses the electrolysis of fused lithium and potassium chlorides mixture. This fusion process leads to the deposition of very pure lithium. That is so because it calls for the decomposition of lithium chloride at a lower voltage than potassium chloride. The electrolytic production of lithium is highly reliant on graphite anodes and steel cathodes. In a nutshell, lithium forms at the steel cathode and coalesces, forming a molten pool at the electrolyte's surface. The thin electrolyte's film prevents its reaction with air.
Afterwards, experts ladle the lithium and pour it into a mold for casting. Casting is essentially solidifying liquid lithium by pouring it into a mold with a hollow cavity containing a specific shape. Then they remelt the solidified lithium, forcing insoluble materials present in the melt to sink to the melt pot's bottom or float to the surface. This phase is essential in reducing the potassium content.
Lithium Metal in Battery Technology
Lithium metal is considered an ideal material for rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries that will replace lithium-ion products in the future. Rechargeable lithium metal batteries use metallic lithium as the battery's anode. They are widely preferred due to their long run time. This quality comes from lithium having a high charge density (electric charge per unit of volume). Non-rechargeable lithium metal batteries, on the other hand, are disposable products. Generally, these batteries are for single-use and feature primary cell construction, which users can't recharge after use.