Lithium carbonate: applications in the industrial sector
Glass products like optical products, fibreglass and touch screens, are designed for durability or corrosion resistance or for thermal shock resistance caused by high temperatures. The addition of lithium in compounds increases the glass melt rate, lowers the viscosity and the melt temperature providing higher output energy savings and moulding benefits.
There are certain basic properties of lithium which are of interest in ceramics for the production of ceramic bodies and glazes.
- It reduces thermal expansion coefficient but the amount of lithium used must be carefully controlled, because it can cause cracks or the formation of crystals (by turning a clear glaze to opaque).
- It increases strength with consequent improvement in durability. In fact, lithium occurs in the same group of flux elements as sodium and potassium. When lithium reacts with other elements to form compounds, bonds are the result. These bonds are the reason lithium gives higher hardness to glazes then sodium and potassium.
- It brightens colours and ensures their consistency during the years.
- It acts as a viscosity modifier in glass melts and lowers the melting point of glazes. As an alkaline flux, it is a basic ingredient in the composition of ceramic glazes together with the vitrifying agent and the stabilizer.
- Lowers firing temperatures during firing process leading to savings in energy consumptions
Lithium’s extremely high co-efficient of thermal expansion makes induction cook tops and cookware resistant to thermal shock and imparts mechanical strength.
Cements and Construction materials
Lithium carbonate is also present in cements, ceramic tile adhesives and construction materials. It accelerates the process of hardening and gives greater resistance.
The fastest growing market for lithium globally is for use in batteries as cathode material. Lithium-ion batteries have experienced strong and growing demand in recent years.
On the one hand, governments around the world strongly support the electrification of vehicles due to the increasing political and consumer focus on climate change and energy security. This led to a sharp growth in market for electric vehicles (bikes, scooters, buses, taxis, trucks, cars).
On the other hand, digital technology has made available a large number of portable devices that need light, rechargeable and long-lasting batteries. Today we can find lithium batteries in everyday items such as cell phones, computers or power tools.