Lithium is the lightest element in the periodic table and reacts immediately when exposed to air and water. Lithium exhibits properties such as high coefficient of thermal expansion, viscosity, and electrochemical potential. Lithium has a wide range of applications in various end-user industries such as industrial, consumer electronics, electric vehicles, energy storage, and medical. Lithium does not occur in its elemental form due to its high reactivity. Products made of lithium are resistant to thermal shock and have high mechanical strength. Lithium is commonly found in continental brines, hard rock minerals, and clay.
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The global lithium market is driven by the demand for lithium-ion batteries in grid connected storage. Lithium-ion batteries can store a significant amount of power, and the stored power can be supplied to the grid when it is required. Another major driver for the global lithium market is the low emission of carbon. Usage of lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles helps reduce global warming by reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the vehicles. Devices such as laptops, calculators, cameras, mobile phones, activity monitors, etc., require enhanced performance of the batteries, and batteries based on lithium can perform better in this regard. Military applications are witnessing a rise in demand for lithium batteries. However, the high cost of batteries based on lithium are acting as a hindrance to the expansion of global lithium market.
Based on the type, the global lithium market can be classified into metal, compounds, and alloys. Compounds include carbonate, chloride, and hydroxide. Based on end-user application, the global lithium market can be segregated into batteries, glass and glass ceramics, automotive parts, greases, metallurgy, polymers, air treatment, aluminum smelting, and alloys. Lithium is utilized for the production of glass ceramics, as lithium can provide additional durability. Lithium can lower firing temperatures and thermal expansion and increases the strength of ceramic bodies, including heat-proof ceramic cookware. Lithium-ion batteries are employed in the electric cars and hybrid cars.
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The global lithium market expanded at a robust pace in 2016. This trend is expected to continue during the forecast period. In terms of geography, the global lithium market can be segmented into Asia Pacific, North America, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Latin America. Asia Pacific is considered as a prominent market for lithium compounds. Rising demand for new energy storage applications in vehicles, grid connected energy storage, and the increasing demand for personal devices are propelling the expansion of lithium market in the region. North America, is another key market for lithium due to the existence of a strong market for rechargeable batteries in the region.
A strong military sector, which demands the application of rechargeable batteries, is anticipated to propel the expansion of the lithium market in the region. Expanding semiconductor industry in Europe is driving the lithium market in the region. In Europe, most large car manufacturers are launching models that integrate the lithium-ion battery technology. Latin America presents lucrative growth opportunities for the lithium market, due to the presence of a large number of mineral reserves in the region. In Middle East & Africa, the lithium market is in the nascent stage, and is expected to have significant growth opportunities due to the strong demand for smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices in the region.
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