The lightest metal with a heavyweight demand: Lithium

Before the early 1950’s lithium was an ingredient found in Seven-up®; however, after concerns by the FDA it was removed from this popular beverage. Interestingly, about the same time it was found that lithium had antipsychotic properties, but it was only approved for human consumption in the 1970’s.[1] Despite being such a simple molecule lithium carbonate is still the most effective drug for the treatment of bipolar affective disorder! We don’t hear this side of the lithium history very often. In recent years this element has become very popular and its demand has increased considerably due to its widespread use in batteries for small electronic devices such as smart phones and laptops.[2] Lithium is also used to make the batteries for electric cars. The announcement of some countries to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars in the near future has also contributed to the increased demand of this light metal.[3]
Figure 1. Electric car[4] and smartphones[5]

Figure 1. Electric car[4] and smartphones[5]

In the last few conferences we have had some customers asking for lithium NMR and its potential use in lithium quantification. Can we do it? It was an interesting question, so we decided to quickly explore this area. Figure 2 shows a plot of absolute integral versus concentration for two solutions, let’s call one of them LiX and the other one LiY. You can see that both lines pretty much overlap and show linear tendencies. This is because in solution both compounds are dissociated and lithium is present as Li+ solvated by molecules of water. This not only means that we can quantify the total amount of lithium, but that we can do it when more than one lithium species (LiCl, Li2SO4, LiOH, etc.) are present in solution!

Figure 2. Curves made with LiX and LiY solutions

Figure 2. Curves made with LiX and LiY solutions

We’re excited to announce the incorporation of 7Li to the NMReady-60PRO family. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about our instruments or if you want to see whether our instrument will be suitable for your chemistry!

[1]Brown T. E., LeMay H. E., Bursten B. E., Chemistry : the central science, Prentice Hall, 2012.
[2] http://www.mining.com/web/lithium-supply-demand-story/ [Viewed July 25, 2017]
[3] http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40731164 [Viewed July 25, 2017]
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/05/business/energy-environment/volvo-hybrid-electric-car.html [Viewed July 25, 2017]
https://www.media.volvocars.com/ca/en-ca/media/pressreleases/210208/volvo-cars-announces-electric-strategy [Viewed July 25, 2017]
[4] Retrieved from https://www.digitaltrends.com/buying-guides/cell-phone-buying-guide/ [Viewed July 25, 2017]
[5] Retrieved from http://www.icebike.org/electric-cars/ [Viewed July 25, 2017]