Lithium Fluoride is an inorganic lithium salt of hydrofluoric acid. It is an odorless, white, crystalline solid at standard conditions. Lithium fluoride is an ionic compound and highly stable with low melting point. Lithium fluoride is non-flammable and insoluble in water. Lithium fluoride is manufactured commercially by reacting lithium hydroxide with hydrogen fluoride or by dissolving lithium carbonate in excess of hydrogen fluoride and then dehydrating it by heating it till redness appears. Lithium fluoride releases toxic hydrogen fluoride gas when it comes in contact with mineral acids and may cause fluoride poisoning in case of exposure. Some of the common ailments include general weakness, stomach pain, irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, appetite loss, nausea, ulcers, etc.
Lithium fluoride is primarily used as the basic ingredient in molten salt chemistries and liquid fluoride nuclear reactors. Lithium fluoride finds wide applications in molten salt chemistries and is an excellent heat sink material due to its superior stability. It is used as a fluxing agent in the ceramics, enamel and glass industries. It is also used as an ingredient in welding, soldering and dip brazing fluxes. It is widely used for synthesis and extraction of several metals and metal products (especially aluminium) through electrolysis in the metallurgy industry. Optical industry is another major consumer of lithium fluoride owing to its crystalline optical properties.
The lithium fluoride market is driven by its demand in fluxing applications in the enamel, glass and glazes industry. Additionally, high demand from molten salt applications and the metallurgy industry is expected to drive the lithium fluoride market over the forecast period from 2014 to 2020. However, the harmful effects of fluoride poisoning are the major restraint for the lithium fluoride market. New pharmaceutical application in the medical imaging application of lithium fluoride in X-ray imaging as an analysis crystal could be a prospective market opportunity for further demand growth.
Lithium fluoride is a widely used heat sink material due to its stability. It is extensively used as a heat sink material in the molten salt chemistries and liquid fluoride nuclear reactors. In the metallurgy industry it is extensively used in electrodes for extraction and synthesis of a wide variety of metals and alloys, especially aluminium. It is commonly used as a fluxing agent for soldering, welding, dip brazing of metals and alloys as well as glazing of glass, enamel and ceramics owing to its low melting point and excellent optical properties. Lithium fluoride is transparent to infra-red and ultra violet rays and is used for imaging in a variety of optical instruments.
In terms of geography, Asia Pacific is the largest consumer of lithium fluoride riding on high sales of enamels, glass and ceramics to the building & construction industry. Major industrial economies including China, India and Japan are the major consumers of lithium fluoride for application in flux applications, molten salt chemistries, heat sink material and as a raw material in the optical industry. Two of the most populated countries, China and India are situated in Asia. Both these countries are growing rapidly and witnessing rising disposable income and purchase power parity of the general population. North America is another major consumer for lithium fluoride especially in the metallurgy applications. In Rest of the World, Brazil, Argentina and South Africa contribute to major demand for the market. Europe is expected to witness comparatively slower growth than other regions.
Some of the market players include Axiom Chemicals Pvt. Ltd., Crystran Ltd., Harshil Fluoride and Eagle Picher Technologies LLC among many others.
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