The lithium that powers our smartphones, we all have heard of it. Is lithium getting so rare and expensive that it will send the price of smartphones and electric cars skyrocketing? Lithium, is a soft, silvery metal, has the lowest density of all metals and reacts vigorously with water. The most important use of lithium is in rechargeable batteries for mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras and electric vehicles. Lithium does not occur as the metal in nature, but is found combined in small amounts in nearly all igneous rocks and in the waters of many mineral springs. In many cases the mining and extraction of lithium can be toxic to the environment. Lithium is consider as one those “rare” earth materials that is strategic and may have geopolitical implications. Some have even speculated that new wars will erupt in its search and exploitation. News Forecasters asks what of the future for lithium?
Lithium use has risen sharply in the last decade due to the explosion in energy storage technology requirements. The main uses for lithium is energy storage, but glass, ceramics, lubricants and carbon dioxide extraction is big as well. The key producers are Australia, Chile and China. Click and see the inset picture for a good factoids on lithium. Note that recent prices have declined due to oversupply concerns and slowing global growth.
Unfortunately for lithium, in terms of energy storage, there is a growing list of cost effective alternatives. Sand batteries, Gold nanowire batteries, graphene batteries, laser-made micro supercapacitors, foam batteries and others just name a few. Here are even more ideas. The high cost of mining and extraction, challenging geopolitical mining locations, and toxic nature of the metal’s extraction, makes alternatives attractive.
News Forecasters believes that lithium use and prices will rise, though part of price rises maybe largely due to currency debasement. Supply coming on line will keep pace with demand. Most likely the rush to build more lithium production capacity will keep prices inline and the market may even experience weaker prices relative to other materials, partly due to lithium alternatives for energy storage devices. There maybe better alternatives for investments than lithium.
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