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    Global Lithium Flow 1994−2015: Implications for Improving Resource Efficiency and Security

    【期刊】Environmental Science & Technology

     

    【作者】 Xin Sun, Han Hao*, Zongwei Liu, Fuquan Zhao

     

    【摘要】Lithium has been widely recognized as an essential metal for next-generation clean technologies. With the aim of identifying opportunities for improving lithium resource efficiency and security, this study establishes a longterm trade-linked material flow analysis framework to analyze lithium flow throughout the technological life cycle and across national boundaries during the 1994−2015 period. The results indicate that with broader purposes identified, global lithium production and consumption experienced rapid growth over the past decades. A widely distributed, actively functioning lithium trade network has been established, with the United States, China, the European Union, Chile, and Australia playing essential roles. Global lithium in-use stock, which is mainly embodied in ceramics and glass, reached 29 kilotons in 2015. The lithium stock contained in battery-related applications, together with the huge potential production of stock in future decades, represents a major opportunity for secondary lithium recovery. In the context of intensive international trade, international cooperation on lithium waste management is extremely important. It is also suggested that there is a high risk of lithium shortage for countries with strong dependence on lithium import. The establishment of domestic lithium reserves may be an option for these countries.


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