Lithium Element (Periodic Table)

Lithium
Lithium block

Lithium (Li) is a chemical element of the periodic table, located in group 1 and period 2, having the atomic number 3. It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal whose name comes from the Greek word “lithos” (which means stone).

At standard conditions, it is the least dense metal and the least dense solid element. Lithium has a shiny sheen when cut, but moist air corrodes it quickly, turning it dull silvery gray, then black.

Lithium is only found naturally in compounds, such as pegmatite rocks, which were once the primary source of lithium.

Heat-resistant glass and ceramics, lithium grease lubricants, lithium metal batteries, and lithium-ion batteries are just a few industrial uses of lithium and its compounds.

In the treatment of mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, lithium salts have been shown to be effective as a mood stabilizer and antidepressant.

group 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
period
1 1
H
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Hydrogen
2
He
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Helium
2 3
Li
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Lithium
4
Be
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Beryllium
5
B
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Boron
6
C
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Carbon
7
N
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Nitrogen
8
O
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Oxygen
9
F
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Fluorine
10
Ne
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Neon
3 11
Na
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Sodium
12
Mg
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Magnesium
13
Al
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Aluminium
14
Si
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Silicon
15
P
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Phosphorus
16
S
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Sulfur
17
Cl
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Chlorine
18
Ar
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Argon
4 19
K
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Potassium
20
Ca
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Calcium
21
Sc
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Scandium
22
Ti
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Titanium
23
V
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Vanadium
24
Cr
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Chromium
25
Mn
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Manganese
26
Fe
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Iron
27
Co
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Cobalt
28
Ni
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Nickel
29
Cu
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Copper
30
Zn
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Zinc
31
Ga
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Gallium
32
Ge
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Germanium
33
As
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Arsenic
34
Se
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Selenium
35
Br
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Bromine
36
Kr
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Krypton
5 37
Rb
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Rubidium
38
Sr
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Strontium
39
Y
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Yttrium
40
Zr
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Zirconium
41
Nb
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Niobium
42
Mo
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Molybdenum
43
Tc
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Technetium
44
Ru
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Ruthenium
45
Rh
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Rhodium
46
Pd
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Palladium
47
Ag
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Silver
48
Cd
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Cadmium
49
In
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Indium
50
Sn
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Tin
51
Sb
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Antimony
52
Te
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Tellurium
53
I
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Iodine
54
Xe
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Xenon
6 55
Cs
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Caesium
56
Ba
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Barium
72
Hf
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Hafnium
73
Ta
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Tantalum
74
W
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Tungsten
75
Re
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Rhenium
76
Os
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Osmium
77
Ir
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Iridium
78
Pt
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Platinum
79
Au
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Gold
80
Hg
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Mercury
81
Tl
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Thallium
82
Pb
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Lead
83
Bi
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Bismuth
84
Po
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Polonium
85
At
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Astatine
86
Rn
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Radon
7 87
Fr
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Francium
88
Ra
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Radium
104
Rf
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Rutherfordium
105
Db
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Dubnium
106
Sg
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Seaborgium
107
Bh
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Bohrium
108
Hs
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Hassium
109
Mt
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Meitnerium
110
Ds
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Darmstadtium
111
Rg
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Roentgenium
112
Cn
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Copernicium
113
Nh
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Nihonium
114
Fl
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Flerovium
115
Mc
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Moscovium
116
Lv
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Livermorium
117
Ts
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Tennessine
118
Og
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Oganesson
57
La
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Lanthanum
58
Ce
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Cerium
59
Pr
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Praseodymium
60
Nd
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Neodymium
61
Pm
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Promethium
62
Sm
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Samarium
63
Eu
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Europium
64
Gd
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Gadolinium
65
Tb
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Terbium
66
Dy
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Dysprosium
67
Ho
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Holmium
68
Er
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Erbium
69
Tm
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Thulium
70
Yb
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Ytterbium
71
Lu
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Lutetium
89
Ac
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Actinium
90
Th
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Thorium
91
Pa
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Protactinium
92
U
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Uranium
93
Np
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Neptunium
94
Pu
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Plutonium
95
Am
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Americium
96
Cm
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Curium
97
Bk
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Berkelium
98
Cf
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Californium
99
Es
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Einsteinium
100
Fm
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Fermium
101
Md
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Mendelevium
102
No
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Nobelium
103
Lr
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Lawrencium
– s block

Lithium Element Information

Lithium Element
Lithium appearance | source: Wikipedia
Lithium Periodic Table
Lithium location on periodic table
Lithium is found in the first column of the periodic table below the hydrogen element.
Origin of name Greek word “lithos” (which means stone)
Symbol Li
Atomic number (Z) 3
Atomic mass 6.941 u
Block s-block
Group 1
Period 2
Classification Alkali metal
Atomic radius 152 pm
Covalent radius 128±7 pm
Van der Waals radius 182 pm
Melting point 180.50 ℃, 356.90 ℉, 453.65 K
Boiling point 1330 ℃, 2426 ℉, 1603 K
Electron configuration [He] 2s1
Electrons per shell 2, 1
Learn how to draw: Lithium Bohr Model
Crystal structure Body-centered cubic (bcc)
Phase at r.t Solid
Density near r.t 0.534 g/cm3
Main isotopes Lithium-6, Lithium-7
Natural occurrence Primordial
Oxidation state +1
Electronegativity (Pauling scale) 0.98
Protons
Neutrons
Electrons
3
4
3
Valence electrons 1
Learn how to find: Lithium Valence Electrons
CAS number 7439-93-2
Discovered by Johan August Arfwedson in 1817

How was Lithium discovered?

Johan August Arfwedson
Johan August Arfwedson | source: Wikipedia

In the 1790s, a Brazilian scientist José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva discovered the first lithium mineral petalite LiAlSi4O10 on the Swedish island of Utö.

When Johan August Arfvedson of Stockholm examined it in 1817, he came to the conclusion that it contained lithium, a metal that was unknown at the time.

Later, Arfwedson found that this same element was contained in the minerals spodumene and lepidolite.

Both Arfwedson and Christian Gmelin (who first noticed in 1818 that flames produced by lithium salts have a vivid red color) attempted to separate the pure element from its salts but were unsuccessful.

It wasn’t isolated until 1821, when William Thomas Brande did so by electrolyzing lithium oxide, a technique that had previously been used by chemist Sir Humphry Davy to separate the alkali metals potassium and sodium.

In 1855, Robert Bunsen and Augustus Matthiessen electrolyzed lithium chloride to produce more lithium.

Following the discovery of this method, the German company Metallgesellschaft AG began producing lithium on a large scale in 1923. They did this by electrolyzing a liquid solution of lithium chloride and potassium chloride.

In 1949, John Cade, an Australian psychiatrist, is credited for reintroducing and popularizing the use of lithium to treat mania.

Lithium’s mood-stabilizing potential for treating mania and depression quickly gained popularity in Europe and the US around the middle of the 20th century.

How is Lithium produced?

A mixture of fused lithium chloride and potassium chloride is electrolyzed to create lithium metal at a temperature of about 450 ℃. However, lithium is mostly obtained from brines and ores.

Here’s a list of countries ranked by lithium mine production as of 2018:

Lithium mine production (tonnes)
Rank
Country
2018
2019
2020
2021
1 Australia 58,800 42,000 40,000 55,000
2 Chile 17,000 18,000 18,000 26,000
3 China 7,100 7,500 14,000 14,000
4 Argentina 6,400 6,400 6,200 6,200
5 Brazil 300 300 1,900 1,500
6 Zimbabwe 1,600 1,600 1,200 1,200
7 Portugal 800 1,200 900 900
8 Namibia 500
8 Bolivia 540

Lithium is extracted in the US from brine pools in Nevada.

According to the US Geological Survey, the top four lithium-producing nations in the world as of 2019 are Australia, Chile, China, and Argentina.

A region called the Lithium Triangle comprises the three nations of Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina. Over 75% of the known lithium reserves are believed to be located in the Lithium Triangle.

In July 2018, it has found 2.5 million tonnes of high-grade lithium resources and 124 million pounds of uranium resources in its Falchani hard rock deposit in the region Puno.[1]

Historically, lithium and its compounds were isolated and mined from hard rock, but by the 1990s, mineral springs, brine pools, and brine deposits had taken over as the main sources.

Properties of Lithium

Among all the alkali metals, lithium has the lowest density at 0.534 g/cm3, the highest melting point at 180.50 ℃, and the highest boiling point at 1330 ℃.

Lithium is much more reactive when it is molten than when it is solid.

When Cut, Lithium's Silvery-White Color Immediately Turns Gray
When cut, lithium’s silvery-white color immediately turns gray | source: Science Stock Footage

It is possible to cut lithium with a knife. When cut, it has a silvery-white color that immediately turns gray as it oxidizes to become lithium oxide.

Although lithium is the least reactive of the alkali metals, it is a good conductor of heat and electricity and a highly reactive element.

Similar to sodium, lithium experiences diffusionless phase change transformations below 70 K.

Along with sodium and potassium, lithium is one of only three metals that can float on water.

Lithium possesses a rhombohedral crystal system at 4.2 K, which changes to a face-centered cubic and then a body-centered cubic at the higher temperatures.

Where is Lithium found in Nature?

According to modern cosmological theory, lithium (with beryllium and boron) was one of three elements synthesized in the Big Bang. Brown dwarf substellar objects and some irregular orange stars also contain lithium.

Despite being widely spread throughout the planet, lithium does not naturally exist in an elemental state due to its high reactivity.

Lithium Make Up Less Than 0.03% Of The Earth's Crust
Lithium make up less than 0.03% of the Earth’s crust | source: Visual Capitalist

Roughly 0.002% of the Earth’s crust is composed of lithium. Lithium is the 25th most abundant element on Earth, at 20 milligrams per kilogram of crust.

Lithium is a somewhat rare element, although it is found in many rocks and some brines, but always in extremely low amounts. Lithium mineral and brine resources are very abundant, although only a small percentage of them have actual or potential commercial importance. Many are extremely little, while others are of insufficient quality.[2]

Countless plants, plankton, and invertebrates have trace amounts of lithium, with concentrations ranging from 69 to 5,760 parts per billion (ppb). In vertebrates, the concentration is slightly lower, and almost all vertebrate tissue and bodily fluids contain lithium ranging from 21 to 763 ppb.

What are the Uses of Lithium?

Grease has been the 3rd most common application of lithium. Lithium soap may thicken oils, and it is used to create multipurpose, high-temperature lubricating greases.

Lithium is frequently used in coolants for heat transfer applications due to its high specific heat capacity value of 3.58 kilojoules per kilogram-kelvin, the highest of all solids.[3][4]

To reduce veining, lithium compounds are added as additives (fluxes) to foundry sand for iron casting.

Metallic lithium, when used as a flux for welding or soldering, encourages the fusing of metals throughout the operation and prevents the formation of oxides by absorbing impurities.

The majority of lithium is being used to create lithium-ion batteries for mobile phones and EVs. Lithium-ion polymer, lithium iron phosphate, and nanowire batteries are some lithium-based rechargeable batteries.

Red fireworks and flares contain lithium compounds as pyrotechnic colorants and oxidizers.

In thermonuclear weapons, lithium hydride containing lithium-6 is utilized as fuel for the bomb’s fusion stage.

It has been found that lithium works well in aiding the perfection of silicon nano-welds in electronic parts for electric batteries and other devices.

Lithium chloride and lithium bromide are utilized as desiccants for gas streams as they are hygroscopic substances.

In small spaces, like those found in spaceships and submarines, lithium hydroxide and lithium peroxide are the salts most often used to remove carbon dioxide and purify the air.

Lithium can also be utilized to generate alpha particles or helium nuclei.

Bipolar disorder can be treated with lithium. According to a study, lithium therapy used to treat bipolar disorder had no impact on a patient’s body weight.[5]

Artificially produced lithium fluoride crystal is transparent and clear, and is often used in optics for infrared (IR), ultraviolet (UV) applications.

Lithium-Ion Battery Stock Photo
Lithium-ion battery stock photo | source: iStock

The lithium-ion battery is now the industry standard for batteries used in portable computers. About 90% of laptops and 60% of cell phones use lithium-ion batteries.[6]

For the preparation of organic compounds, many lithium compounds are utilized as reagents. Lithium triethylborohydride, lithium aluminum hydride, n-butyllithium, and tert-butyllithium are a few common compounds.

Interesting Facts about Lithium

Lithium has the lowest density among all metals. Its density is about half that of water, so it floats on water.

Lithium is soft enough to be cut with a knife.

Lithium burns with a red-colored flame when it comes in contact with the air.

Lithium never occurs freely in nature and is available only in igneous rocks.

Lithium reacts vigorously with air and water, so it is stored in oil to prevent the reaction with water.

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Related:

More Elements:

s block
p block
d block
f block
Barium Aluminium Bohrium Actinium
Beryllium Antimony Cadmium Americium
Caesium Argon Chromium Berkelium
Calcium Arsenic Cobalt Californium
Francium Astatine Copernicium Cerium
Helium Bismuth Copper Curium
Hydrogen Boron Darmstadtium Dysprosium
Lithium Bromine Dubnium Einsteinium
Magnesium Carbon Gold Erbium
Potassium Chlorine Hafnium Europium
Radium Flerovium Hassium Fermium
Rubidium Fluorine Iridium Gadolinium
Sodium Gallium Iron Holmium
Strontium Germanium Lawrencium Lanthanum
Indium Lutetium Mendelevium
Iodine Manganese Neodymium
Krypton Meitnerium Neptunium
Lead Mercury Nobelium
Livermorium Molybdenum Plutonium
Moscovium Nickel Praseodymium
Neon Niobium Promethium
Nihonium Osmium Protactinium
Nitrogen Palladium Samarium
Oganesson Platinum Terbium
Oxygen Rhenium Thorium
Phosphorus Rhodium Thulium
Polonium Roentgenium Uranium
Radon Ruthenium Ytterbium
Selenium Rutherfordium
Silicon Scandium
Sulfur Seaborgium
Tellurium Silver
Tennessine Tantalum
Thallium Technetium
Tin Titanium
Xenon Tungsten
Vanadium
Yttrium
Zinc
Zirconium

References:

1. Plateau Energy Metals Peru unit finds large lithium resources

2. The Trouble with Lithium 2

3. SPECIFIC HEAT OF SOLIDS

4. LITHIUM LITERATURE REVIEW: LITHIUM’S PROPERTIES AND INTERACTIONS

5. Lithium therapy and weight change in people with bipolar disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis

6. You’ve got the power: the evolution of batteries and the future of fuel cells

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