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Is Lithium the Future of Technology?

Past and Present

Written by Keith Kohl
Posted November 5, 2015

Lithium-ion batteries are a technological marvel, and have made many things possible that many would have never dreamed of.

Whether it's small things like phones, or larger products like cars, lithium has allowed much advancement in the way we develop technology.

However, lithium was not always the wonderful, game-changing metal we know today.

Exxon was actually the first manufacturer of lithium batteries. The need came about during the oil crisis in the 1970's. The thing is, they were not rechargeable, and the way they were made created toxic by-products in the electrolyte.

These batteries were used in the first digital watches, for example. The only problem was that gases from the electrolyte could build up in the battery and catch on fire if they made contact with the air.

Make a note.... this does not happen with current lithium processing.

Starting with those issues, and future issues with battery fires, consumers thought they would never see something as “unstable” as lithium in the world markets.

The reason they became popular again was because people were starting to understand that fossil fuels needed to be replaces with alternatives, and fast. This prompted scientists and engineers to make lithium a safe metal.

John GoodenoughA scientist by the name of John Goodenough is widely considered to be the father of modern lithium-ion batteries.

He developed cathodes with lithium cobalt oxide, which power electronics to this day, and he also developed cathodes with manganese oxide, which are the fuel behind most modern electric cars.

The reason that those are safe is that, because unlike the older stuff, these technologies have no “free” lithium.

A chemical is used to bind the lithium ions to metal oxide crystals in the positive cathodes, so the lithium ions never come into contact with other elements... thus, no unwanted or inconvenient fires.

There are many advancements on the horizon, although many scientists claim that it will take a long time (and a lot of work) to make lithium batteries perfect for better technology.

In fact, some of these advancements won't be ready for five years or more, with some potential ideas simply not viable for commercialized consumption at all — and never will be.

The end goal here is better energy from sources other than fossil fuels, or even the end of fossil fuel culture altogether. Because the world needs to think of better ways to acquire energy... and lithium looks like it has the potential to be the ultimate answer.

To continue reading...

Click here to read the Nature Weekly Journal of Science article

Until next time,

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Keith Kohl

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A true insider in the energy markets, Keith is one of few financial reporters to have visited the Alberta oil sands. His research has helped thousands of investors capitalize from the rapidly changing face of energy. Keith connects with hundreds of thousands of readers as the Managing Editor of Energy & Capital as well as Investment Director of Angel Publishing's Energy Investor. For years, Keith has been providing in-depth coverage of the Bakken, the Haynesville Shale, and the Marcellus natural gas formations — all ahead of the mainstream media. For more on Keith, go to his editor's page.

 

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