Very reactive, lithium does not exist in its native state in the natural environment, but only in the form of ionic compounds. It is extracted from pegmatite-type rocks, as well as from clays and brines. The chemical element is most often used directly from mining concentrates. To obtain it industrially in the metallic state, the molten salt electrolysis technique is used (55% LiCl and 45% KCl, at 400°C).
Lithium is an essential material for the production of electric vehicles.
The emergence of rechargeable hybrid and electric vehicles requires the manufacture of more and more batteries. Most of these batteries will be of the lithium-ion (Li-ion) type because this technology offers a good mass energy density and better performance than conventional NiMH batteries.
Use in batteries now far exceeds other lithium uses (58% in 2018) and is expected to climb to 85% of consumption around 2025-2030. In 2020, globally, lithium use in batteries was about 71%.
Lithium consumption, which totaled 50,750 t Li in 2018, is projected to nearly triple by 2025 to 150,000 t.