What’s Lithium Bromide?

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Lithium bromide is an ionic compound made of lithium and bromine, commonly used as a desiccant and in refrigeration units. It can be produced by reacting lithium hydroxide and hydrobromic acid, and affects CNS functions.

Lithium bromide (LiBr), also known as lithium monobromide, is a compound of the elements lithium and bromine, with a lithium atom bonded to a bromine atom. It is an ionic compound, in the sense that the lithium atom “gives” an electron to the bromine atom, with the result that the lithium atom becomes positively charged and the bromine atom becomes negatively charged; the atoms are then bonded together by electrostatic attraction. Ionic bonding is a common feature of simple metallic/nonmetallic compounds. Lithium is a metal that belongs to a group of elements known as alkali metals because they react with water to produce strong alkalis. Bromine belongs to a group of nonmetallic reactive elements known as halogens, which also include fluorine, chlorine, and iodine.

The compound can also be described as a salt, i.e. a substance that can be produced by the reaction of a base and an acid – in this case, lithium hydroxide (LiOH) and hydrobromic acid (HBr): LiOH + HBr -> LiBr + H2O. Common salt, or sodium chloride, is another example. Normally, however, lithium bromide is made by reacting hydrobromic acid with lithium carbonate. Lithium bromide is very soluble in water and forms hydrates, which are compounds that include water. It is also extremely hygroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture from the air, and for this reason it is widely used as a desiccant or desiccant in dehumidifiers, industrial drying systems and air conditioning systems.

The largest commercial and industrial use of lithium bromide is in refrigeration units where water is used as a coolant; these are suitable for applications where freezing is not required, such as chillers and air conditioning systems. Cooling is achieved by evaporation, a process that absorbs heat from the surroundings, just like sweat keeps the body cool. To maintain the cooling effect, the evaporated water must be recovered from the resulting moist air, and this is achieved by spraying it with a strong lithium bromide solution which absorbs the water vapour, leaving a more dilute solution. This solution is heated in a boiler to drive off excess water, creating a stronger solution; both water, converted back to liquid in a condenser, and strong lithium bromide solution are recycled through the system.

Lithium compounds affect central nervous system (CNS) functions and have been used to treat certain mental conditions, particularly bipolar disorder. In modern times, lithium carbonate is normally prescribed, but lithium bromide has been used in the past for the treatment of epilepsy. Ingestion of lithium compounds can produce severe toxic effects due to their action on the CNS.

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