Why Lithium Batteries?

So how does lithium work as a battery?

Lets begin with Lithium.

Lithium is an extremely soft, silvery-gray metallic element, identified by the symbol Li on the periodic table of elements.

Discovered in the early 1800s,  it took the work of several chemists to find it.

It has an atomic number of 3, making it the lightest solid element.

The element was originally called lithion, derived from the Greek lithos for “stone.”

Since it’s often found in rocks, and is usually extracted in a form of brim under pressure.

Like other metals, lithium is very reactive in a pure form but not usually found in nature in the true sense.

It easily combines with other elements to form compounds.

Used in a wide range of industries, especially in alloys and compounds.

With high specific heat, meaning that it its melts slowly and will hold  on to high temperatures, used in heat transfer medium, found in alloys, ceramics, and glass.

The metal is the most popular choice in batteries, since it also has a high electrochemical , meaning  the metal can store energy.

Among many other uses, the element can act as an air purifier, trapping carbon dioxide in enclosed environments like aircraft and submarines.

Consumers may also be familiar with its salts, which are used as mood altering drugs, particularly lithium carbonate, which was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1970.

Important Fact

What scientist found out, salts of the metal were used effective in correcting imbalances in the brain that lead to mood disorders.

Lithium competes with sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium in nerve tissues that maintain impulse conduction. 

By attaching itself to a binding site on the nerve tissue, lithium may change the impulse conduction.

The nerve impulses may change in frequency, change direction, or alter in some other way.  This change will probably lead to a change in behavior.

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New Finds

At ROCK SPRINGS, Wyoming, Scientists  from the University of Wyoming Carbon Management Institute were looking for a  place to store carbon dioxide when they discovered lithium in  briny water 10,000 feet below the ground.

Lithium is one of key ingredient in batteries  and one of the most sought after elements in the world and up until now, a very short supply in the United States.

The only  other lithium mine in the nation  is the Rockwood Lithium plant in Silver Peak, Nevada.

They  are estimated over  100,000 tons in a 20-square-mile area.

World game changer

So the new finds at Rock Springs are about 2,000-square-mile of Rock Springs  could contain up to 20 million tons of lithium.

Which is the  equivalent to over 700 years of current global lithium production.

The discovery could have a major impact on the global market.

It could transform the United States from a lithium importer to large lithium producer.

Original  estimates suggests for the Rock Springs Uplift could contain 228,000 tons of lithium  comparable 25-square-mile area.

Since Rock Springs Uplift are  the new players in Extracting lithium.

They should take a page or to from Rockwood Lithium plant in Silver Peak, Nevada.

Some history at Silver Peak  lithium which  was also originally found in a brine solution under ground.

They  pumped the salty brine from the ground into square large holding pools or  large lakes on the desert  floor of the Nevada desert.

The hot sun evaporates the water leaving lithium crystals in a concentrated solution.

After a couple of years the lithium becomes more concentrated solution.

At this point the lithium is very wet….but you can not use lithium wet it needs to be in a power form.

From the lake the salty brine  is then pumped into to the processing plant where every last ounce lithium is extracted.

By  heating and eventually mixed with soda ash, the new product is now called lithium carbonate.

Another important point is that the largest soda ash deposit is located 40 miles from the Lithium mine ROCK SPRINGS, Wyoming.

But we are not done.

It then must be washed and placed to into a very large rotary dryer where the last drop of moisture is remove and finally into to barrels to be shipped.

This milky white substance can also be made into medicine for anti depression and the like.

Side note Eton Musk Gigafactory is located about 3 and half hours the Silver Peak Lithium mine and about 700 miles from the newly discovered Lithium mine ROCK SPRINGS, Wyoming.

With worldwide demand for lithium increasing at about 10 percent each year, according to U.S. Geologic Survey estimates, lithium mining could be the best thing in product  in the USA.

Rather than getting  other researchers , the governments to evaluated the economic potential of producing metals and salts from saline oilfield brines, incorporating lithium production into the CO2 storage process is a new concept for them.

Look at Silver Peak Lithium mine.

If you want to more about the Project history  (See below)

Back to Lithium batteries  

The reason lithium is a element used in batteries is when you zap it with electrics its holds on to the energy with is positive charge and in order to release the energy place it next to a negative  and charge will flow.

Ordinary batteries only can only do this once but lithium natural positive disposition means you can do over and over.

In order to turn it into a battery you need to place it next to a negative source.

How do you get the dry lithium carbonate into a battery as we know it?

At the battery plant lithium carbonate is mixed with a  solvent that look like ink then

poured into what looks like a printing press but instead of paper you get a wafer thin aluminium  coated with lithium ink.

(How every each manufacture have their own formulas)

The wafer thin material is returned to a mangle press where it squeezes until the material is no thicker than a hair. The material is  then wound together with negative charged copper in a winding machine  creating one super light battery cell. After the cell is charge the ion rush back and forth creating 3.8 volts of energy.

When you cluster 6000 batteries together you have a Tesla S 100 powering one fast electric car and  of course the same type of battery is use in other electric cars as well laptops, telephones, tablets and the like.

There are many companies who are improving battery designs.

Several come to mind.

People like Johnson Controls Test are in Milwaukee,  Wisconsin who main function is to design, develop, and test lithium ions cells and batteries.

More History on the Wyoming Carbon Underground Storage Project research.

CUSP Center for Urban Science and Progress began in 2010 as a joint  project between the federal Department of Energy and the University of Wyoming.

“There is no question that, if we’re going to utilize our coal resources, we need to capture the CO2 and store it in the subsurface,” said CMI director Ron Surdam. “We were out looking for the best place in Wyoming to do that.

He went on to say, by extracting  and marketing lithium from the brines you could produce significant revenue to offset the cost of brine production and CO2 storage.

Looking at on the commercial side, When CO2 that is  capture and stored under ground. We see  the emission-reduction technology that  will allow us to create new jobs and coexist  with the environment.

More projects are on tap for Department of Energy.

CUSP project will end in December, but it has another joint project with the Department Of Energy.

They want make sure CO2 storage will work in the Rock Springs Uplift.

The geologic features include Madison limestone and Weber/Tensleep sandstone in hot, pressurized brine.

Because the brine already is pressurized, one of the big costs of desalination and because its heated,

it could  then be run though a heat exchanger to make electricity to run the plant under pressure.

Then by reverse osmosis,  potable water could be produced along with  Magnesium that needs to be removed from the brine.

Let hear it for the State of Wyoming

So what is Tesla doing these day.

For one thing Tesla is forecasting a big growth in batteries.

If not for all the competition that are going and coming are way.

Every major manufacture of auto, trucks, buses, motorcycles,
and all other types of transportation are going electric.

In order to go electric you need batteries…and for right now the best batteries need lithium.

Tesla in order to back their supplier of Lithium have instructed or designate its battery suppliers to buy lithium-hydroxide products from Ganfeng Lithium Co.

China’s top producer of lithium, a metal used in electric-vehicle batteries, has agreed to supply a fifth of its production to the Tesla.

Lithium based products and lithium-hydroxide from Ganfeng Lithium Co.

According to some forecasts, Tesla may need as much as 30,000 tons of lithium products and lithium hydroxide a year for its battery output at its Nevada plant or the equivalent of 35 gigawatt hours.

Electric-vehicle producers including Tesla are securing supplies of lithium for batteries to protect the huge demand for growth in the industry.

LG Chem Ltd. a large battery producer for China electric car maker have also entered into a long term commitment…forcing Tesla hand

LG Chem Ltd. in addition supply batteries to GM, Hyundai, Renault and others.

However, the most sold hybrid with a battery is the Toyota Prius
It began in Japan 1997… and by the end of 2018  will  sell over 10,000,000.

Nissan delivered its 300,000th Leaf electric car last month, but the vehicle went into production in 2011 while Tesla didn’t start producing vehicles in volume until 2013.

Tesla is often seen as the world’s leading electric vehicle manufacturer and it is in many ways, but not based on total vehicles produced – though it could soon take the lead.

The company confirmed that it recently produced its 300,000th vehicle.

The electric car is here.