Lithium fluoride (“LiF”) is mostly used today as the main raw material for production of lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6), a chemical salt used to produce electrolyte, a main component material of high-performance lithium-ion batteries.
The production of LiF can be divided into direct synthesis method, ion exchange method and solvent extraction method, and direct synthesis method is divided into dry method and wet method.
Today, LiF is mostly used as the main raw material for production of lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6), a chemical salt used to produce electrolyte material, a component material of high-performance lithium-ion batteries. LiPF6 is a kind of white crystal in solid state or powder with strong deliquescence properties. It is easily soluble in water and soluble in organic solvents such as low concentration methanol, ethanol, acetone and carbonate. LiPF6 is the most widely used electrolyte for lithium batteries, which has the characteristics of relative safety and high ionic conductivity.
Outside of lithium hexafluorophosphate, other applications for LiF include its use in the ceramics, UV optical, PLED and OLEDs, metallurgy, aluminium and rare earth smelting, molten salts, nuclear reactor and radiation detection industries.
At present, in China, lithium fluoride is produced and consumed by two methods:
- Companies produce LiF as a standalone product, this consists of purchasing industrial-grade lithium carbonate and hydrogen fluoride and then process the material into battery-grade lithium fluoride which is then sold to lithium hexafluorophosphate companies and other companies which consume lithium fluoride such as optical or glass companies.
- Fluorine-based chemical companies, vertically-integrated lithium chemical companies, or downstream lithium hexafluorophosphate companies which self-procure/self-produce raw materials such as industrial-grade lithium carbonate, hydrofluoric acid, and internally produce and consume LiF within their own supply chain.