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Author: Subject: What are some interesting uses for lithium metal
EthidiumBromide
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[*] posted on 1-11-2020 at 05:05
What are some interesting uses for lithium metal


I have about 100 g of Li metal and I was wondering on some interesting ways to utilize some of it.
Of course you can always throw some into water, but that's just not as exciting as sodium or potassium. I already tried burning it, which was pretty cool. But I'm more interested in productive ways to use it.
I already have distillation of cesium metal from CsCl and Li on my list of things I would like to do, as soon as I muster the financial bravery to purchase some CsCl. I also want to try dissolving Li in anhydrous ammonia (don't know if I have anything suitable to try the birch reduction, though).

Are there any other interesting applications/reactions for Li metal that can be done in a home lab?


lithium_metal.jpg - 652kB
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Antigua
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[*] posted on 1-11-2020 at 05:07


If you've got access to any subzero temperatures you could do some LEGAL Birch reductions, it's a very beautiful and elegant use of Li.
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[*] posted on 1-11-2020 at 07:02


if i remember correctly there was a old post of someone succesfully making lithium hydride from lithium metal and hydrogen gas. You could use lithium hydride as is or experiment and try to make lithium aluminium hydride, a super useful reducing agent




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HydrogenSulphate
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[*] posted on 1-11-2020 at 07:28


You could synthesise n-butyl lithium by reaction of the Li metal with 1-bromobutane or 1-chlorobutane. You'll need an inert atmosphere, as n-butyl lithium is pyrophoric :(
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MidLifeChemist
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[*] posted on 1-11-2020 at 08:27


Simple ideas would be reacting Lithium with sulfur or a halogen, especially bromine or iodine. Alternatively, you could see if there is way you could use it to reduce Calcium or Strontium to their elemental forms.


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[*] posted on 1-11-2020 at 11:45


You can burn it in nitrogen atmosphere to make lithium nitride.

You can also make lithium carbide from lithium and acetylene, look at this.




If you are interested in aqueous inorganic chemistry look at https://colourchem.wordpress.com/main-page/

"An old friend once told me something that gave me great comfort. Something he had read. He said that Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin never died. They simply became music." Dr. Robert Ford, Westworld
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EthidiumBromide
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[*] posted on 2-11-2020 at 06:46


Thank you for your suggestions!
Quote: Originally posted by Antigua  
If you've got access to any subzero temperatures you could do some LEGAL Birch reductions, it's a very beautiful and elegant use of Li.

Yes, I admit the Birch reduction is a very appealing way to use Li. But I'm afraid I don't have anything specific I'd like to reduce, so if I decide to give it a go I'll end up using some random substrate with an aromatic ring, like benzoic acid or toluene, for the sake of the reaction alone.

Quote: Originally posted by Ubya  
if i remember correctly there was a old post of someone succesfully making lithium hydride from lithium metal and hydrogen gas. You could use lithium hydride as is or experiment and try to make lithium aluminium hydride, a super useful reducing agent

This also seems interesting. It's not easy to get LiH or LAH, none of my domestic vendors have it. LAH is of course a very useful reagent, so it might be worth the effort.

Quote: Originally posted by HydrogenSulphate  
You could synthesise n-butyl lithium by reaction of the Li metal with 1-bromobutane or 1-chlorobutane. You'll need an inert atmosphere, as n-butyl lithium is pyrophoric :(

I don't think I'm well equipped to handle pyrophoric liquids, unfortunately. But n-BuLi is definitely a very interesting and useful compound.

Quote: Originally posted by MidLifeChemist  
Simple ideas would be reacting Lithium with sulfur or a halogen, especially bromine or iodine. Alternatively, you could see if there is way you could use it to reduce Calcium or Strontium to their elemental forms.

I already did reactions of Li (and Na, K) with S, I2 and red P. Very vigorous reactions, and with potassium, even explosive! But using lithium to reduce other metals is certainly worth trying.

Quote: Originally posted by Bedlasky  
You can burn it in nitrogen atmosphere to make lithium nitride.

You can also make lithium carbide from lithium and acetylene, look at this.

I'll also consider making these lithium compounds (Li3N is particularly interesting), thanks!



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[*] posted on 2-11-2020 at 06:53


A very interesting experiment is adding lithium to pure ethylenediamine. This allows you to see solvated electrons. You get Li(+) ions and free electrons, both of which are solvated by the ethylenediamine. The solvated lithium ions are colorless, but the e(en) complex is deep blue.

https://woelen.homescience.net/science/chem/exps/electride/

[Edited on 2-11-20 by woelen]




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EthidiumBromide
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[*] posted on 2-11-2020 at 07:58


^ Thanks for informing me of this! I do remember reading that some amines are capable of generating solvated electrons with alkali metals, similar to ammonia. But I wasn't aware that ethylenediamine could do this. I have rather easy access to it, so that means I won't need the cold temperatures required for condensing ammonia (my only way to accomplish this would be using dry ice and acetone or ethanol, sadly I can't get it locally and need order it online, with rather expensive shipping).

Good to know that I don't need anhydrous NH3 to observe solvated electrons. I will have to try this ASAP.

[Edited on 2-11-2020 by EthidiumBromide]
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[*] posted on 2-11-2020 at 12:28


Woelen: That's really cool! I didn't know that some amines can solvate electrons. I wonder if diethylenetriamine can solvate electrons. I have few mils of dien and I plan to buy few grams of potassium for some fun demonstrations, so I'll try it.

How did I missed this experiment? I discovered few articles of yours on this forum and when I wanted to return to them, I couldn't found them (so I must searched them on SM). Do I something wrong? I browser on your site through periodic table. And when I click on Li, I cannot find this article.




If you are interested in aqueous inorganic chemistry look at https://colourchem.wordpress.com/main-page/

"An old friend once told me something that gave me great comfort. Something he had read. He said that Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin never died. They simply became music." Dr. Robert Ford, Westworld
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[*] posted on 2-11-2020 at 13:08


Distillation of Cs and Rb springs to mind.
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[*] posted on 2-11-2020 at 13:16


Ethylenediamine is a good start, but how about lithium acetylide ethylenediamine complex?
You can safely do acetylidations with it.
Check the Beumer paper from 63 for some more informations, it looks feasible to me.
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 00:13


Quote: Originally posted by Bedlasky  
[...]How did I missed this experiment? [...]
My fault. I forgot to add an index to that page. This weekend I'll fix that.



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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 00:31


Has anyone ever made organolithiums at home? I daydream about a day when I'm experienced enough in home organic chemistry to invest in a schlenk line and start playing around with organolithiums.

[Edited on 11-6-2020 by Cou]




my youtube channel, organic chemistry videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0qzaRyHxLUOExwagKStYHw
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EthidiumBromide
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[*] posted on 6-11-2020 at 03:16


I tried the experiment of Li metal in 99% ethylenediamine.

My sample was slightly yellow, probably due to some oxidation of the ethylenediamine sample. Nonetheless, the experiment worked perfectly. I cut up the lithium into approximately 2 mm sized pieces to get a faster reaction. Below is the sequence of changes during the course of the experiment.

About 3 minutes after adding Li:

electride_1.jpg - 169kB



About 10 min after adding Li:

electride_2.jpg - 185kB

What I found most interesting was that the solvated electrons came off in "bursts" from the surface of the lithium into the ethylenediamine, rather than just slowly and gradually dissolve into it like it happens in general with colored compounds dissolving into solvents.


After 15 min of adding Li, I swirled the test tube a bit. The first few swirls of blue immediately vanished, but after the 5th or 6th, the deep blue color remained for longer:

electride_3.jpg - 156kB


After a 3 more swirls, almost the whole contents of the test tube maintained the blue color:

electride_4.jpg - 170kB


Finally, after 20 minutes the entire test tube was filled with the dark blue color. I held it up with the roof window as the background.

electride_5.jpg - 176kB


I'm satisfied with the outcome. I'm still amazed that it's possible to observe solvated electrons without using sub-zero temperatures in order to liquify ammonia. So, thanks again for sharing this experiment, Woelen. I can get solvated electrons off my list of things to do (though I still want to try the Birch reduction eventually)
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