My question is pretty straightforward, beside earth, what celestial bodies could hold exploitable quantities of lithium-7 and lithium-6?

I understand that lithium is a scarce element in our universe. Suns produce it but also burn it during their lifecycle. Most of it stems from the Big Bang itself. Yet planets like earth can hold reasonable deposits. What about gas or ice giants and what about moons especially with oceans? Is there any evidence of earth like lithium deposits there? If so, how did it get there?

I'd appreciate any hints, since I am running out of obvious search items.

1st edit

The broader context of my question and hence the connection to world building would be, that I try to estimate the feasibility of a Jetter's Cycle based energy production economy, which would require large amounts of readily available lithium-6.

2nd edit

For the sake of completeness I want to add the following article with some news on lithium deposits in the universe: https://phys.org/news/2021-11-astronomers-ancient-brown-dwarf-lithium.html

According to the findings presented in this article, brown dwarves can house substantial amounts of lithium. Furthermore, there is an illustration which indicates, that also Jupiter has lithium.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome NullAndVoid to worldbuilding! We appreciate you seeking us out. Take a tour and if anything is unclear check the help center. Your current question doesn't look like worldbuilding for stories. I think the space or astrology stackexchanges are better suited, although I have experience in either. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Nov 15, 2021 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ You are right that lithium is scarce when looking at the distribution of elements in the universe in general, but the picture is different when looked as at a fraction of the solid bodies of a solar system. Although it would be wrong to call it common, neither is it too scarce. It's pretty easy to find anywhere, but it tends to be concentrated by hydrological processes, so the richest ores would be places that formerly had lots of water which evaporated. Failing that, lithium miners would just have to process very large amounts of rocks to scavenge out small amounts. $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2021 at 14:23
  • $\begingroup$ You are asking about some dramatically different types of objects spanning an enormous range of scales. Jupiter masses several hundred times as much as Earth and is a largely or entirely fluid body mostly consisting of extremely hot, high-pressure metallic hydrogen. Brown dwarves are failed stars. If you're considering dismantling of major celestial bodies to get at their lithium, the tiny amounts you could scratch out of the ore deposits on a rocky planet or icy moon are utterly irrelevant to your needs. $\endgroup$ Nov 29, 2021 at 17:07

1 Answer 1


As lithium compounds can dissolve in water (relatively) easily, good locations to mine lithium would be places which have or once had liquid water - in particular, places with briny deposits or pegmatites. This includes:

  • Mars, which likely had fewer pegmatite magmas but plenty of mineral deposits.
  • Watery moons, as you suggested, although relatively low salt concentrations (relative to Earth) and a lack of easy ways to extract lithium could make it economically inviable.
  • A massive asteroid or minor planet which once had some water on its surface, such as Ceres, which has numerous bright spots which could be the remains of briny water (Nathues et al. 2015).

This lithium would have been either primordial, from the original solar nebula, or created by interactions with cosmic rays. The latter method would have split oxygen and carbon into lighter elements, including lithium-6.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Lithium doesn't dissolve in water. Like all the alkali metals, it reacts rather vigorously with it. It also reacts with air and many other things, which is why you simply don't find lithium in nature. Lithium compounds do dissolve in water, which is why the deposits that are mined (or extracted from brines) are chlorides, carbonates, and such. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Nov 15, 2021 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf Ah, I thought it was implied that it was referring to compounds - I've made an edit. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Nov 15, 2021 at 20:54

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