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powdered lithium can be used in a variety of applications. It is a highly reactive metal and the most active of all the alkali metals. Its high specific heat and electrochemical potential make it an important component of rechargeable lithium batteries, used in everything from cellular phones to camcorders to laptop computers. It is also used in lithium ion battery technology, which is now being applied to large power applications like hybrid electric vehicles.
It does not occur in nature in its free elemental form because of its reactivity; rather, it is bound to other elements or compounds. These compounds are extracted from igneous rocks, including lepidolite, spodumene, petalite, and amblygonite, as well as from natural brines. Lithium production has grown exponentially since the end of World War II, because it is essential for the development of rechargeable lithium batteries and other electronic devices.
This powder can be used to produce a wide variety of organolithium products. A typical method involves reacting an organohalide with a lithium dispersion in mineral oil to exchange the halogen atom for the corresponding lithium atom. However, commercially available lithium dispersions often have a low surface area, making them inefficient for these exchange reactions.
This material is non-pyrophoric and meets DOT regulations for the transport of spontaneously combustible materials (Method 1050 of Code of Federal Regulations Part 173, Appendix E). It can be shipped as is or it can be stabilized with perfluoropentylamine to produce a powder with an average particle size of about 20 microns.