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Lithium-ion Batteries

University of Oxford_061522D
[University of Oxford]


- Overview



- Lithium Carbonate

Lithium carbonate is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula Li2CO3, which is a colorless monoclinic crystal or white powder. The density is 2.11g/cm3. Melting point is 723°C. Soluble in dilute acid. Slightly soluble in water, the solubility in cold water is greater than that in hot water. Insoluble in ethanol and acetone.

Lithium carbonate is a lithium compound that, as the name suggests, combines with carbonate to form a salt. Lithium carbonate is primarily produced by extracting it from underground brine pools, using precipitation, extracting other unwanted compounds, and adding sodium carbonate. Lithium carbonate can be used in the manufacture of ceramics, medicines, catalysts, etc., and is a common raw material for lithium-ion batteries.

Its main industrial use is in the production of rechargeable batteries, by using lithium carbonate as the main compound, which is converted into compounds used as cathodes and electrodes. Other industrial uses are related to its ability to bind silica and other materials used in the production of floor treatments, cement thickeners, adhesives, glazes and sealants.


- Lithium Hydroxide

Lithium hydroxide is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula LiOH. It can exist anhydrous or hydrated, and both forms are white hygroscopic solids. They are soluble in water and slightly soluble in ethanol. Both are commercially available. Although classified as a strong base, lithium hydroxide is the weakest known alkali metal hydroxide.

Lithium hydroxide is a lithium-based compound that has important unique properties compared to lithium carbonate: it decomposes at lower temperatures, making the production process for battery cathodes more sustainable and the end product lasts longer. 

For this reason, lithium hydroxide is preferred in the battery manufacturing industry, especially in EV (electric vehicle) production. It improves the performance of the battery, allowing EVs to have a higher availability range before they need to be recharged. 

The cost of producing lithium hydroxide from brine is higher than extracting lithium carbonate, but newer technologies allow it to be processed more directly, increasing its competitiveness in the industrial market. Still, in general, it costs more than its predecessor for some of its uses.



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