Did you know that lithium is currently the hottest mineral on the market? The silver-white colored soft metal is highly flammable and reactive, making it a great alternative to power some of our everyday tools. The metal is stored in mineral oil to prevent corrosion and tarnish, and the process to produce it is becoming more popular as it leaves a smaller carbon footprint than traditional manufacturing.
There were 100,000 tons of lithium produced globally in 2021, and it is expected that there will be a 22x increase of that production in the next five years. The reason for the high demand? Lithium-ion batteries.
In the past, lithium was sought after for industrial materials such as greases, metallurgical powders, and polymers. Now, nearly 95% of the lithium demand is directly related to batteries. Lithium-ion batteries have a higher energy density than conventional batteries. They do not require periodic full discharges, and they self-discharge at a lower rate than any other battery type. These batteries are used in anything from phones and tablets, to electric vehicles, meaning lithium is already charging much of our daily lives.
In recent years, there has been a call to reduce carbon emissions, and the number one target has been the vehicles that we drive every day. Electric cars are being manufactured at a higher rate than ever, and each car requires 8 kg of lithium in a lithium-ion battery to operate. Luckily, there are currently 22 million tons of worldwide lithium reserves, with the highest amount in Chile. The U.S currently holds just above 3% of the global lithium reserves, meaning the reliance on international mining is higher than ever. Still, supply and demand remains high and will continue to climb as technology continues to evolve.
Lithium already controls much of our lives, from our communication on our phones, to transportation with our vehicles. To learn more about how lithium will continue to power the future, take a look at the infographic below: