Lithium carbonate

| Section8 = }} Lithium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula Li2CO3. This colourless salt is widely used in the processing of metal oxide and has received attention for its use in psychiatry.


Like all other inorganic carbonates, Li2CO3 is polymeric. It is slightly soluble in water: only 1.33 grams dissolve in 100 mL at room temperature. Its solubility decreases at higher temperatures. The isolation of lithium from aqueous extracts of its ores capitalizes on this low solubility. Its apparent solubility increases tenfold under a mild pressure of carbon dioxide; this effect is due to the formation of the metastable bicarbonate:
Li2CO3 + CO2 + H2O → 2 LiHCO3


Lithium carbonate is an important industrial chemical. It forms low-melting fluxes with silica and other materials. Glasses derived from lithium carbonate are useful in ovenware. Cement sets more rapidly when prepared with lithium carbonate, as is useful for tile adhesives. When added to aluminium trifluoride, it forms LiF which gives a superior electrolyte for the processing of aluminium. It is also used in the manufacture of most lithium-ion battery cathodes, which are made of lithium cobalt oxide.

Medical uses

Lithium carbonate is used to treat manic states and bipolar disorder. Lithium ions interfere with chemical reactions that relay and amplify messages carried to the cells of the brain.

Daily doses of lithium, a drug used to treat bipolar disorder, have been found to delay progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in an Italian study of 44 people with the disease. No other treatment to date has shown such a dramatic effect on ALS.


Lithium carbonate is found in fireworks, because lithium imparts a deep red to flames.


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