Lithium is a soft alkali metal with silvery-white color. It is an element of the first group of the main subgroup of periodic system, where it is designated as Li with the number 3. It was invented in 1817 by Swedish scientist Johan August Arfwedson in petalite mineral. Metallic lithium was obtained 18 years later. Its name derived from its initial occurrence — stone.
To obtain lithium, its natural minerals are baked withCaCO3 or CaO by alkali method. There is one more method — to dissolve minerals with sulfuric acid and with a help of salt-titration processing method (K2 SO4) and further soda leaching. Obtained Li2 CO3 carbonate is hardly dissolved. It is transformed into chloride LiCl. Then, it must be purified by method of vacuum distillation.
Being alkalis metal, lithium is resistant in air. It is the only one material among alkali metals which is not kept on kerosene because it possesses the lowest activity. It covers with dense oxide film at a temperature of 100−300°С. This film protects it from further oxidizing. Powder-like Li slowly react with atmospheric gasses by forming Li2 CO3, hydroxide LiOH and nitride Li3 N. Powder-like Li easily inflames in oxygen.
It is very malleable metal. It is softer then lead, but harder than sodium. It can be easily rolled or pressed. It possesses the lowest density in comparison to other alkali metals at a room temperature. But in this ranks, it differs with high boiling temperature and melting point (1340°С — 180.54°С). These special properties are caused by small atomic shape. Lithium mixes with sodium at a temperature of up to 380 °C. It cannot be mixed with rubidium or ceasium. But other alkali metals can be mixed with each other in any proportion.
Physical properties of Li
|Atomic (molal) weight mole/h||6.941|
|Melting heat kJ/mole||2.89|
|Heat conductivity K [V/m*K]||84.8|
|Evaporation heat kJ/mole||148|
Lithium sulfide in alloy with copper sulfide is used in the capacity of thermoelectric material. This element is efficient semi-conductor. Li is applied for alloying (especially for aluminium), manufacture of lasers, rocket fuel, in electronics, nuclear energetics. Metallurgists use lithium for increasing of plasticity, strength of metals and deoxidizing of alloys. Carbonate Li2 CO3 is used while smelting aluminium for obtaining alloys with high strength-to-density ratio. Adding of lithium increases module of elasticity and softens the alloy.
All types of lithium mill-products comply with technical conditions and GOST: rod, wire, drops, ingots, bars. Bars and wire are obtained by metal extrusion through a matrix into bath with petroleum ointment adding. Alloying of aluminium with lithium and magnesium (Al-Mg-Li) increase resistance to corrosion cracking for 4%, module of elasticity for 11%, and decreases density.
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