Lithium is a chemical element of the Alkali Metals. Group IA in the periodic table. Its chemical symbol is Li, its atomic number is 3, and its atomic weight is 6.941, the lowest weight of all metals.

Soft and silvery white, lithium quickly becomes covered with a gray oxidation layer when exposed to air. In nature, lithium is always found in bonded form. Lithium is found in the minerals spodumene, LiAlSiO2, petalite, LiAlSi4O10, and eucryptite, LiAlSiO4. Lithium metal is prepared by electroysis of molten lithium were estimated at more than 10 million metric tons.

Although a highly reactive element, lithium is less active than the other alkali metals. Like the others, it easily yield an electron, forming monovalent positive ions. Lithium reacts with water to form lithium hydroxide. LiOH, which is used as a carbon dioxide bonding agent in the ventilating systems of submarines and spaceships.

Other important lithium borate, Li2B4O2, which are used in the ceramic industry as glaze constituents, and lithium perchlorate, LiClO4. which like all perchlorates is a very powerful oxidizing agent. It has been suggested for use in solid fuels for rockets. Lithium salts are used as antidepressant drugs.

Lithium hydride, LiH, is used to inflate lifeboats and balloons. It is also powerful reducing agent. Lithium hydride, composed of the lithium 6 isotope and deuterium, is called lithium deuteride, LiD. LiD can be converted into helium in a nuclear fusion reaction. Lithium deuteride is the explosive material of the hydrogen bomb and may eventually be the fuel of controlled fusion reactors.


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