Lithium Salts at the Salar

Lithium Salts: Markets and Applications

Lithium salts are used in a variety of application areas such as pharmaceuticals, in the glass industry or in the manufacture of aluminum.

Air Conditioning

Lithium bromide brine inhibited is used in industrial absorption-refrigeration systems which are installed in large buildings and industrial plants for air-conditioning or process cooling.

Battery Industry

Lithium carbonate and hydroxide are used to manufacture cathode material. For more information, please go to the product area Battery Products.

Biotechnology and Gel Electrophoresis

Lithium acetate serves as a buffer substance in gel-electrophoresis, and to modify the cell walls of yeast for DNA transformations.

Carbon Dioxide Absorption

In this application, the atmospheric carbon dioxide is circulated through a device charged with anhydrous lithium hydroxide. It is used in submarines, space capsules, and mining rescue equipment to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2).

Construction Industry

An increasingly important application of lithium carbonate (but also other lithium salts, such as hydroxide, sulfate and citrate) is its addition to quick-setting cements where they influence the setting time and the development of strength of high and medium alumina cements and mortars. Depending upon the effect intended, 0.1% – 2.5% of lithium carbonate are added.

Glass, Ceramics and Enamel

The admixture of lithium is very beneficial to the glass melting process. The application of lithium carbonate as an additive has become very important in the glass, enamel, and ceramic industry. The achieved improvements are the result of the strong fluxing power of lithium. Lithium has become widely used as a replacement for boron and fluorine, wherever air-pollution problems exist. In many glass formulations, it decreases the melting point and the viscosity, and decreases the thermal expansion considerably (e.g. glass ceramics for cooktops, fire-resistant glass).

Humidity Control

Aqueous lithium chloride solutions are used in industrial humidity control and drying systems. These systems find specific application in film processing, laboratories, food processing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, printing, high occupancy areas and meeting areas.

Industrial Catalysis

The isomerization of propylene oxide to allyl alcohol uses a supported lithium phosphate catalyst. Li3PO4 is therefore available in a special catalytic grade with a high specific surface.

Lubricating Greases

Lithium hydroxide is a very important factor when it comes to the production of multipurpose lubricating greases, as such greases have a high dropping point (180°C) and an excellent water resistance. They can be used over a wide temperature range (-50°C to + 200°C). Their excellent properties render them suitable for a very broad variety of applications, including the lubrication of equipment in mines, steel mills, paper machines, aircrafts, ship-building and automotive industry.

Manufacture of Aluminum

Lithium carbonate is used as an additive in certain primary aluminum productions in order to decrease the viscosity and temperature of the bath, reduce energy consumption and fluorine emissions, and increase current efficiency.

Organic Synthesis

A broad variety of lithium salts is used in numerous organic synthesis reactions as bases, additives or catalyst components. For example, lithium acetate is used in organic synthesis of antibiotics; anhydrous lithium bromide in dehydrobromination reactions and in the industrial production of lithium borohydride.

Pharmaceuticals

Lithium carbonate is used as an active pharmaceutical ingredient in the lithium therapy of bipolar disorders. We produce a quality that meets the requirements of the European Pharmacopeia under GMP conditions at our site in Langelsheim, Germany. A USP grade of this API is manufactured at our FDA-approved site in Kings Mountain, USA.

Thermal Heat Storage and Rubber Industry

Lithium nitrate is a multi-ton component in molten salt mixtures used for thermal energy storage. It is also an essential component in Albemarle's Sabalith®, a heat-transfer salt which is used in salt bath curing systems for rubber profiles.

Welding & Brazing

Lithium chloride is used in combination with other salts to manufacture fluxes. The most important application of lithium chloride-enriched fluxes occurs in the manufacture of aluminum heat-exchangers for the automotive industry. A mixture of potassium, sodium, and lithium chloride as well as inorganic fluorides is used for brazing at about 600 °C. The content of lithium chloride may be as high as 25 %.

Zeolites

Another interesting application of lithium chloride lies in the manufacture of lithium zeolites to produce oxygen by means of adsorptive air separation for industrial and medical use.