Enable Recite

Subscribe options

Select your newsletters:

Please enter your email address:

@

Your email address will only be used for the purpose of sending you the ITER Organization publication(s) that you have requested. ITER Organization will not transfer your email address or other personal data to any other party or use it for commercial purposes.

If you change your mind, you can easily unsubscribe by clicking the unsubscribe option at the bottom of an email you've received from ITER Organization.

For more information, see our Privacy policy.

News & Media

Latest ITER Newsline

  • Data | Archiving 20 gigabytes per second—and making it usable

    One of the main deliverables of ITER is the data itself—and there will be a tremendous amount of it to store and analyze. During First Plasma, the highest produ [...]

    Read more

  • Electrical tests | High voltage, high risk

    In the southern part of the construction platform, a one-hectare yard hosts some of the strangest-looking components of the entire ITER installation. Rows of to [...]

    Read more

  • Vacuum vessel | First sector safely docked

    It was 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday 6 April and something quite unusual happened in the ITER Assembly Hall: applause spontaneously erupted from the teams that h [...]

    Read more

  • Remote ITER Business Meeting | Virtual interaction, tangible opportunities

    While the advent of Covid-19 has not stopped the relentless advancement of the ITER Project, it has certainly prompted ingenuity in how ITER conducts its work. [...]

    Read more

  • Manufacturing | Europe completes pre-compression rings

    The French company CNIM (Toulon) has produced a tenth pre-compression ring for the ITER Project on behalf of Fusion for Energy, the European Domestic Agency. Th [...]

    Read more

Of Interest

See archived entries

The beauty and power of lithium

This kunzite crystal is not only beautiful, but it contains lithium, a raw material for fusion. In future fusion power stations lithium will be converted into one of the potent fusion fuels, tritium, by neutron bombardment.

Kunzite is a silicate that contains lithium and also aluminium. It also comes in shades of yellow and also a green variety, which is known as hiddenite. Hiddenite crystals can grow to huge sizes—the biggest ever found being over 14 metres long.

There are other lithium-containing minerals: rose or yellow coloured lepidolite, which contains potassium and fluorine, or red-brown lithiophylite, which is lithium manganese phosphate. These are all types of granite, an igneous rock formed by cooling volcanic magma or lava.

Kunzite is one of several lithium-containing minerals. The total lithium content in the Earth's crust is estimated at between 20 and 70 parts per million. (Click to view larger version...)
Kunzite is one of several lithium-containing minerals. The total lithium content in the Earth's crust is estimated at between 20 and 70 parts per million.
The total lithium content in the Earth's crust is estimated at between 20 and 70 parts per million (compared with the content in water of deuterium—fusion's other fuel—which is 35 parts per million). However the economically viable reserves are estimated to be a modest 13 million tonnes.

For comparison, the estimated viable uranium deposits amount to 35 million tonnes—but fusion gives four times more energy per kilogram than uranium. Even the vast coal deposits of the world, estimated at 860 billion tonnes, seem less extensive when you factor in that, per kilogram of fuel, fusion is four million times more efficient than coal at producing energy.

There is much speculation about how long the terrestrial deposits of these fuels might last, but it is perhaps irrelevant. The value of lithium as a potent fusion fuel will doubtless inspire new processing techniques which will enable extraction of lithium from sea water which will end the discussion. The estimated reserves of lithium in the ocean is 230 billion tonnes, several million years' supply.

This story was originally published on the EFDA website.


return to the latest published articles