Knowing you better: Lithium

Currently, I am still in open relationships with some of interesting projects in lithium battery which later I will choose as my Phd topic. I haven’t decided yet who will be my future mate, for at least 4 years. Is it that new-popular-high potential guy lithium air? Or shall I try to push a bit of boundary for that mature-handsome-rich lithium ion battery? or maybe am I going to engage with other fundamental analysis on how those guys actually works?

First step I need to do is to understand those guys better. How do they look like, what is their characteristic, etc. Last week, the big man of those battery, namely lithium, was in a big anger because we have take him for granted =.= We didn’t give him the proper place to rest and left some things that he really hates around him. He was so agitated and angry that he breath fire to us. Whoopss…Luckily, no one was really hurt because of what he did. However, from his rage, we could understand him better and could be his friend again really soon.

When I first met lithium, I know that he is reactive. He is in the first column of the table right below hydrogen in the alkali metal group. In my imagination, he must be small, wild, and have short temper. But I never know how reactive he could be, what could make him so annoyed, and how to make him calm again. Now. I know, sadly after seeing him in rage.

There are three kind of element that lithium feel really dejected at, that he will become so mad when they are around:

1. Water

Lithium will react with water and highly explosive. The resulting product of H2 could burn in air also.

2Li (s) + 2 H2O (l) → 2LiOH (aq) + H2 (g)

Just see the video below…

2. Oxygen

Lithium will have exothermic reaction with oxygen.

4Li (s) + O2 (g) → 2 Li2O (s)

3. CO2

Whatt? This one I never know before, that lithium will also have exothermic reaction with CO2

4 Li (s) + CO2 → 2 Li2O (s) + C (s)

Standard enthalpy of formation of Li2O ∆Hf Li2O = -597.9kJ/mol

Standard enthalpy of formation of CO2 ∆Hf CO2 = -393.5 kJ/mol

Total enthalpy ∆Hf = 2 * ∆Hf Li2O – ∆Hf CO2 = -802.3 kJ—> exothermic

Ok, now I know what he dislikes. The next thing is how to make him calm again, especially when he is very mad and scared people around him.

The lithium fire is classified as class D fire, which is metal fire. The type of the extinguisher that we should use have to be matched with the type of fire occurs.

Metal/Sand Extinguishers – for flammable metals (class D fires) and work by simply smothering the fire. The most common extinguishing agent in this class is sodium chloride.

1. Sodium chloride (NaCl)

It works well for metal fires. Heat from the fire causes the agent to cake and form a crust that excludes air and dissipates heat.

2. Powdered copper metal (Cu metal)

It is preferred for fires involving lithium and lithium alloys. It is the only known lithium fire fighting agent which will cling to a vertical surface thus making it the preferred agent on three dimensional and flowing fires.

3. Graphite-based powders

It is also designed for use on lithium fires. This agent can also be effective on fires involving high-melting metals such as zirconium and titanium.

4. Specially-designed sodium bicarbonate-based dry agents

It can suppress fires with most metal alkyl, phoriporicliquids which ignite on contact with air, such as triethylaluminum, but do not rely on a standard BC extinguisher for this purpose.

5. Sodium carbonate-based dry powders

It can be used with most Class D fires involving sodium, potassium or sodium/potassium alloys. This agent is recommended where stress corrosion of stainless steel must be kept to an absolute minimum.

Hope I can work well with you since I know you better. 🙂

Courtesy of Dr Denis  for providing the information about lithium metal.

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