--> Abstract: Development of Energy Technology to Create Surge in Demand for Lithium, by James D. Vine; #90968 (1977).

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Abstract: Development of Energy Technology to Create Surge in Demand for Lithium

James D. Vine

Lithium minerals, chemicals, and metal have many and varied uses in industry. The consumption of lithium for conventional uses has grown at an average rate of nearly 10% each year since 1970. Potential energy-related uses for lithium include lithium batteries and lithium as a fuel source in controlled thermonuclear reactors. The high electrical capacity of lithium-aluminum-iron sulfide batteries makes them ideal for the storage of off-peak power for utility nets, and their light weight makes them equally desirable as a power source in pollution-free electric automobiles. These two battery applications alone could use the entire economically recoverable reserves and resources of lithium in the United States by the year 2000.

Lithium also will be required in the generation of electric power by tritium-deuterium reaction in controlled thermonuclear reactors. Deuterium is a relatively abundant isotope of hydrogen, which is present as one part in every 6,500 of seawater, but tritium must be produced artificially from neutron bombardment of lithium. Thus, lithium is used in the blanket surrounding the reaction chamber to serve as a breeder for tritium as well as a coolant and heat conductor for the reaction chamber.

The U.S. reserves of lithium in pegmatites and brines, as currently outlined by industry, are adequate for the rate of consumption during recent years; but a rapid increase in supply and, hence, reserves will be essential to keep ahead of projected demand for energy applications of lithium.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90968©1977 AAPG-SEPM Annual Convention and Exhibition, Washington, DC