That Cornish lithium

Yes, there is lithium in the geothermal waters in Cornwall. Yes, it can be extracted. Profitably? Well, that’s to be found out.

And then a little alarm bell:

“We would not be spending money if we didn’t think it was a very large opportunity,” says Wrathall. He says they have also found cesium, used in 5G networks, although the potential to exploit it remains unclear.

Well, yes, there’s cesium in there. The rock that lithium is being dissolved out of will contain it. However, thinking that you’re going to extract cesium is one of those well, hmm, do these people actually know what they’re talking about moments? And for 5G? Well, yes, atomic clocks, but the volume required is tiny.

The time to start heading for the hills is when they mutter about the closely allied rubidium. Yes, it’s $12 a gramme. Lovely stuff too. But with a global market of a couple of tonnes a year not something upon which mining companies are built…..

8 thoughts on “That Cornish lithium”

  1. Wasn’t cesium a component of CRT televisions? If you only need tiny amounts would old tellys be a cheap place to source it?

  2. Umm, can’t recall it being so. Cerium, maybe, but that’s a different element. Biggest use of cesium by volume is drilling muds for oil wells.

  3. Until I looked it up, I was unaware that caesium is liquid at room temperature and, like rubidium, ignites spontaneously in air. A tricky metal to use

  4. Both come in little glass capsules. And if it ignites in air then contact with water is likely to be even more fun.

    So, glass capsule, snowbank, hard ice crust, throw. Most satisfying. Although do try to recall which is in which capsule. You must stand much further back – throw further – for Rb than Cs.

  5. Noel C, I think that Caesium is so much more reactive that there is no time for hydrogen to accumulate. Therefore rubidium is more dangerous. Glad to be corrected by those who know

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