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Analysis of the Element Lithium

Analysis of the Element Lithium

Lithium, which is represented by the symbolic notation, Li, is the third element on the periodic table. The mineral Petalite (which contains lithium) was discovered by the Brazilian scientist José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva towards the end of the 18th century while visiting Sweden. Lithium was discovered by Johan August Arfvedson in 1817 during an analysis of Petalite ore. Arfvedson subsequently discovered lithium in the minerals spodumene and lepidolite. C.G. Gmelin observed in 1818 that lithium salts color flames were bright red. Neither Gmelin nor Arfvedson were able to isolate the element itself from lithium salts, for example in attempted reductions by heating the oxide with iron or carbon. The first isolation of elemental lithium was achieved later by W.T. Brande and Sir Humphrey Davy by the electrolysis of lithium oxide. In 1855, Bunsen and Mattiessen isolated larger quantities of the metal by electrolysis of lithium chloride. In 1923 the first commercial production of lithium metal was achieved by Metallgesellschaft AG in Germany using the electrolysis of a molten mixture of lithium chloride and potassium chloride.

Lithium’s origin name was founded from the Greek word “lithos” meaning “stone”, apparently because it was discovered from a mineral source. William Thomas Brande and Sir Humphrey Davy first isolated the element through the electrolysis of lithium chloride oxide. In 1855, Bunsen and Mattiessen isolated larger qualities of the metal by electrolysis of lithium chloride. Lithium is widely distributed in nature, in soil, plants, animals and even the human body. However, it is also located on the earth’s outermost layer, but makes up only .00007% of the earth’s crust.


Lithium is a Group 1 (IA) element containing just a single valence electron. Group 1 elements are called "alkali metals". Lithium is a soft, white solid metal that is about half as dense as water. A freshly cut chunk of lithium is silvery, but tarnishes in a minute or so in air to give a grey surface effect.

Many uses have been found for lithium metals and its compounds. Lithium has the highest specific heat of any solid element and is used in heat transfers and various nuclear applications. It is also used in the production of special glasses and ceramics pieces. Lithium is the lightest known metal and can be alloyed with aluminum, copper, manganese, and cadmium to make strong, lightweight metals...

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