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Spotlight on Lithium

By Paul Grad |

A huge growth in demand for lithium compounds is expected when automotive manufacturers start mass producing hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles using lithium-ion batteries. In anticipation of the expanded business, many minerals-processing companies have been developing technologies for processing lithium from ores or brine into battery-grade (high-purity) lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide.   Changing market For many years, the majority of lithium compounds have been used in the production of ceramics, glass and primary aluminum. They have also been used in mobile phones, computers, rechargeable power tools, electric motors for electric bicycles, and alloys to increase strength-to-weight ratios in aerospace and motorsports applications. Lithium carbonate has also been used in medicine for the treatment of several ailments, including bipolar disorder. Today, the two biggest markets for lithium compounds are in the manufacture of lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles and in energy storage for smart grids. Market reports predict that world lithium demand will increase by a factor of 2.5 between 2010 and 2020. For example, a recent report by signumBOX (Santiago, Chile www.signumbox.com) predicts that global lithium…
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