From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Solid-state lithium ion battery
Mains level : Read the attached story
Lithium has been among the most sought-after mineral during the past few years, largely on the back of its usage in battery manufacturing.
India is at odds with a major import source for the mineral, China.
- 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.
- 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”.
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%
Why is India looking for lithium?
- India has been scouting for lithium reserves since the Centre’s push to boost the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in the country.
- The ₹18,000 crore production-linked incentive scheme for advanced chemistry cell (ACC) battery storage, a flagship incentive scheme for the industry has kicked off.
- However, the supply of lithium, which is largely an imported product, has declined.
- With India being in a diplomatic tussle with China, the supplies from the neighbouring country have declined and India too is looking for other import avenues.
Why has the supply of lithium declined?
- The supply of lithium has not been in line with the surge in demand from electric vehicle makers across the world.
- China also is witnessing a mismatch between demand and supply, which has led to a rise in prices.