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The Element Lithium

[Click for Isotope Data]





Atomic Number: 3

Atomic Weight: 6.968

Melting Point: 453.65 K (180.50°C or 356.90°F)

Boiling Point: 1615 K (1342°C or 2448°F)

Density: 0.534 grams per cubic centimeter

Phase at Room Temperature: Solid

Element Classification: Metal

Period Number: 2    Group Number: 1    Group Name: Alkali Metal

What's in a name? From the Greek word for stone, lithos.

Say what? Lithium is pronounced as LITH-ee-em.

History and Uses:

Lithium was discovered in the mineral petalite (LiAl(Si2O5)2) by Johann August Arfvedson in 1817. It was first isolated by William Thomas Brande and Sir Humphrey Davy through the electrolysis of lithium oxide (Li2O). Today, larger amounts of the metal are obtained through the electrolysis of lithium chloride (LiCl). Lithium is not found free in nature and makes up only 0.0007% of the earth's crust.

Many uses have been found for lithium and its compounds. Lithium has the highest specific heat of any solid element and is used in heat transfer applications. It is used to make special glasses and ceramics, including the Mount Palomar telescope's 200 inch mirror. Lithium is the lightest known metal and can be alloyed with aluminium, copper, manganese, and cadmium to make strong, lightweight metals for aircraft. Lithium hydroxide (LiOH) is used to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere of spacecraft. Lithium stearate (LiC18H35O2) is used as a general purpose and high temperature lubricant. Lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) is used as a drug to treat manic depression disorder.

Lithium reacts with water, but not as violently as sodium.

Estimated Crustal Abundance: 2.0×101 milligrams per kilogram

Estimated Oceanic Abundance: 1.8×10-1 milligrams per liter

Number of Stable Isotopes: 2   (View all isotope data)

Ionization Energy: 5.392 eV

Oxidation States: +1

Electron Shell Configuration: