Lithium

Lithium

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Naturally occurring lithium is composed of two stable isotopes, 6Li and 7Li, the latter being the more abundant (92. 5% natural abundance). Both natural isotopes have anomalously low nuclear binding energy per nucleon (compared to the neighboring elements on the periodic table, helium and beryllium); lithium is the only low numbered element that can produce net energy through nuclear fission. The two lithium nuclei have lower binding energies per nucleon than any other stable nuclides other than deuterium and helium-3. As a result of this, though very light in atomic weight, lithium is less common in the Solar System than 25 of the first 32 chemical elements. Seven radioisotopes have been characterized, the most stable being 8Li with a half-life of 838 ms and 9Li with a half-life of 178 ms. All of the remaining radioactive isotopes have half-lives that are shorter than 8. 6 ms. The shortest-lived isotope of lithium is 4Li, which decays through proton emission and has a half-life of 7. 6 × 10−23 s.

Lithium and its compounds have several industrial applications, including heat-resistant glass and ceramics , lithium grease lubricants, flux additives for iron, steel and aluminium production, lithium batteries , and lithium-ion batteries . These uses consume more than three quarters of lithium production.

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