Description: Lithium, the lightest of the alkali metals, has an atomic number of 3 and an atomic weight of 6.94. Lithium exhibits oxidation states of zero and plus one and is clearly an alkali metal. However, lithium and its compounds are not always typical of the other alkali metals. The high ionic charge density and the strong tendency for lithium to form a monopositive ion strongly influence the stability of lithium compounds and the type of bond which lithium forms with other atoms, ions and radicals. The unusually high charge density of the lithium ion is a crucial factor in setting lithium and its compounds apart from the other alkali metals and their compounds.
Lithium is used as a starting material or chemical intermediate in a number of reactions. Both lithium hydride and lithium nitride, which are prepared by the direct combination of their elements. Other inorganic compounds of lithium may be prepared by the direct combination of the elements or by the reaction of lithium with an acid gas if an unusually high purity product is required. For example, extremely dry lithium sulfide can be prepared by the reaction of lithium metal with hydrogen sulfide. Such processes are hazardous and expensive and are generally avoided if possible. Lithium may be used in the preparation of both alkyl- and aryl-lithium compounds and lithium alkoxides.
Lithium Metal as a Polymerization Catalyst, usually as a dispersion, has been used to polymerize such monomers as butadiene, isoprene, styrene and acrylates. It has also been used to produce copolymers. Lithium in High-strength Glass and Glass-ceramics The use of lithium compounds to manufacture high-strength glass and glass-ceramics has greatly increased within the past decade.