From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Global Lithium production
Mains level : Lithium ion batteries and their significance
India has inked a pact with an Argentine firm to jointly prospect lithium in the South American country.
Why such a move?
- Currently, India is heavily dependent on import of these cells and the move to ink sourcing pacts for lithium is seen as another salvo in the front against China, a key source of both the raw material and cells.
- India is seen as a late mover as it attempts to enter the lithium value chain, coming at a time when EVs are predicted to be a sector ripe for disruption.
- And 2021 is likely to be an inflexion point for battery technology, with several potential improvements to the Li-ion technology.
- Lithium is a chemical element with the symbol Li and atomic number 3.
- It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal. Under standard conditions, it is the lightest metal and the lightest solid element.
- Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly reactive and flammable and must be stored in mineral oil.
- When cut, it exhibits a metallic lustre, but moist air corrodes it quickly to a dull silvery grey, then black tarnish.
- Lithium metal is isolated electrolytically from a mixture of lithium chloride and potassium chloride.
- It is a crucial building block of the lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs), laptops and mobile phones.
Global producers of lithium
- Australia and Chile have swapped positions as the world’s leading lithium-producing country over the past decade. In 2019, the world’s Top 5 lithium producers were:
- Australia – 52.9% of global production
- Chile – 21.5%
- China – 9.7%
- Argentina – 8.3%
- Zimbabwe – 2.1%
- The U.S. ranked 7th with 1.2% of the world’s lithium production.
- In 2019, the world’s Top 5 lithium reserves by country were:
- Chile – 55.5% of the world’s total
- Australia – 18.1%
- Argentina – 11.0%
- China – 6.5%
- U.S. – 4.1%
- A lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery.
- They are commonly used for portable electronics and electric vehicles and are growing in popularity for military and aerospace applications.
- A prototype Li-ion battery was developed by Akira Yoshino in 1985, based on earlier research by John Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham, Rachid Yazami and Koichi Mizushima during the 1970s–1980s.
- In 2019, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was given to this trio “for the development of lithium-ion batteries”.
How does it work?
- In the batteries, lithium ions move from the negative electrode through an electrolyte to the positive electrode during discharge, and back when charging.
- Li-ion batteries use an intercalated lithium compound as the material at the positive electrode and typically graphite at the negative electrode.
- The batteries have a high energy density, no memory effect and low self-discharge.
Try this PYQ:
Q.Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles produce one of the following as “exhaust”:
- Despite the improvements in lithium-ion batteries over the last decade, long charging times and weak energy density are still barriers.
- The Li-ion batteries are seen as sufficiently efficient for applications such as phones and laptops, in case of EVs.
- They still lack the range that would make them a viable alternative to internal combustion engines.
- A number of alternatives are being fostered to achieve more optimal options.