There is a lot of talk lately in the lithium industry about lithium hydroxide taking over the market, with demand increasing exponentially due to the raised global interest in electric vehicles. What does that mean for the lithium carbonate manufacturers and how do the two compounds differ from one another will be discussed further in detail.
What Is Lithium Carbonate and What Is It Used For?
Lithium carbonate is a lithium compound which, as its name indicates, associates with carbonates to become a salt. Lithium carbonate is mainly produced by extracting it from underground brine pools, using precipitation, extraction of other undesired compounds, and addition of sodium carbonate.
Its main industrial use is to produce rechargeable batteries, by using lithium carbonate as a primary compound which is converted into those which serve as a cathode and electrode.
Other industrial uses are related to its capability to join with silica and other materials, which is applied in the production of cement densifiers, adhesives, glazes, and sealers.
What Is Lithium Hydroxide and What Is It Used For?
Lithium hydroxide is a lithium-based compound with a crucial distinctive property compared to lithium carbonate: it decomposes at a lower temperature, allowing the process of producing battery cathodes to be more sustainable and the final product to be long lasting.
For this reason, lithium hydroxide is preferred in the battery manufacturing industries, especially in the EV (electric vehicles) production. It increases the performance of the battery, allowing EVs to have a higher usability range before needing a recharge.
The cost of producing lithium hydroxide from brine is higher than extracting lithium carbonate, but newer technologies allow it to be processed more directly, increasing its competitiveness in the industrial market. Still, generally speaking, for some of its uses it involves a higher cost than its precursor.
Is Lithium Hydroxide Going to Take Over?
For companies like Bisley International, the different applicabilities of lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide are to be discussed in the big picture of the lithium market. In other words, even though the demand for lithium hydroxide has, indeed, grown a lot lately, it doesn’t mean that lithium carbonate will become obsolete.
Lithium carbonate’s uses go beyond that of a precursor in manufacturing lithium-ion batteries. It is one of the essential medications listed by the WHO, treating millions of people with bipolar disorder. It’s also widely used in the grease and lubricants raw materials industry to create ceramic glazes, tile adhesives, cement densifiers, or as a processing chemical in the aluminum industry.
In conclusion, the differences that put lithium hydroxide on a higher level of global demand are tied to battery manufacturing, only a part of what lithium carbonate does for the lithium industry.