Vir­tual View­point

The Wharf - - Technology - By Chris Ezekiel Fol­low @chrisezekiel and @cre­ative­vir­tual on Twit­ter

The gen­eral per­spec­tive is bat­tery tech­nol­ogy has been slower to de­velop than oth­ers

Lithium bat­ter­ies are a ubiq­ui­tous part of our lives. Smart­phones are the ob­vi­ous ex­am­ple, and the march to elec­tric ev­ery­thing con­tin­ues at an in­cred­i­ble pace – cars, skate­boards, ro­bots and even smart cloth­ing.

The gen­eral per­spec­tive is bat­tery tech­nol­ogy has been slower to de­velop than other tech­nolo­gies - but when you con­sider what it takes to power our modern-day gad­gets and trans­port, and the amaz­ing func­tions these of­fer. I think it’s in­cred­i­ble what’s been achieved.

At the heart of this rev­o­lu­tion is a lithium – the third el­e­ment in the pe­ri­odic ta­ble and a sub­stance present in vir­tu­ally all rocks.

It’s the light­est known metal and is also used in fire­works, cos­met­ics, in the man­u­fac­ture of air­craft and as a psy­chi­atric med­i­ca­tion. Lithium-ion bat­ter­ies have some of the high­est en­ergy den­si­ties of any bat­tery tech­nol­ogy and de­liver three times the volt­age of nickel-based bat­ter­ies.

De­mand for lithium is in­creas­ing ex­po­nen­tially. It dou­bled in price be­tween 2016 and 2018.

Ul­ti­mately, we are all de­rived from star­dust, but lithium, to­gether with hy­dro­gen and he­lium, are the only el­e­ments cre­ated at the birth of the uni­verse. There’s even been a cou­ple of songs writ­ten about it (Nir­vana and Evanes­cence). We even used to drink it in 7up, which was launched in 1929 as ‘Bib-La­bel Lithi­ated Lemon-Lime Soda’ with a recipe that con­tained lithium cit­rate un­til 1948. When swip­ing your so­cial ac­count spare a thought for this re­mark­able metal.

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