Battery Metals

The Knoxville News Sentinel news reported that the US Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee could run out of weapons grade lithium by 2018, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. Demand for the type of lithium needed for the Y-12 project, lithium-6, has tripled in recent years, as per the report.

The Knoxville News Sentinel news reported that the US Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee could run out of weapons grade lithium by 2018, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. Demand for the type of lithium needed for the Y-12 project, lithium-6, has tripled in recent years, as per the report.
As quoted in the publication:

Until 2013, Y-12 depended on a key lithium facility (Building 9204-2 or Beta-2) and its “wet chemistry equipment” to convert the existing inventory of lithium chloride to lithium usable in nuclear weapons, the GAO report stated. Because of the age the facility and its equipment, which were characterized as being “at risk of catastrophic failure,” that was no longer viable. The report noted a March 2014 incident in which a 300-pound block of concrete fellow from the corroded ceiling in Y-12’s lithium facility. Some parts of the old lithium production system were rated among the highest health risks at Y-12.
As a result of those problems, some of the lithium cleaning work in the past couple of years was shifted to a process known as “Direct Materials Manufacturing.” But the increased demand for purified lithium-6 has taxed the capabilities. It reportedly takes longer to certify material via the DMM process. Some of the work has been shifted to Building 9202, which houses Y-12’s Development Division.
A new lithium production facility is in the planning stages at the Oak Ridge nuclear weapons plant, but the GAO noted that as part of developing a lithium strategy — particularly in light of the increasing demand — the NNSA may placed too much attention on getting a new facility and not enough to other alternatives for acquiring the weapons-grade material. The new lithium production facility reportedly wouldn’t come online until 2025.

Click here to read the full article from the Knoxville News Sentinel.

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