Lithium is a a soft, silvery-white alkali metal. Atomic number of 3 and symbol Li.

Lithium ion cell

In the Lithium Ion cell the cathode is a lithium transition metal oxide, eg manganese or cobalt or a combination of transitional metals. The anode is a graphite-based material, which can intercalate or release lithium.

When discharge begins the lithiated carbon releases a Li+ ion and a free electron. Electrolyte, that can readily transports ions, contains a lithium salt that is dissolved in an organic solvent. The Li+ ion, which moves towards the electrolyte, replaces another Li + ion from the electrolyte, which moves towards the cathode. At the cathode/electrolyte interface, Li+ ions then become intercalated into the cathode and the associated electron is used by the external device.

Considerations for addressing the increasing demand for lithium ion batteries

With this rapidly growing demand for electric vehicles, two significant questions arise, namely where is all the lithium (as well as other elements involved in battery production, such as nickel, cobalt and manganese) going to come from and how will we deal with recycling, reprocessing and reusing the metals encased within spent batteries.  The main answer to the first question is various forms of mining.  Lithium is primarily mined from brines, pegmatites and sedimentary rocks and there are significant reserves in several countries, notably Chile, Australia, Argentina and China. Ref: Making Energy Greener