Lithium-ion batteries seem to be all the rage. That is mostly because of the varied places that the battery can be deployed. From a small smartphone battery to large sophisticated batteries used in electric automobiles, lithium-ion batteries have found a lot of takers. But, what is it that makes these type of batteries so versatile and efficient? Well, to understand that, we have to first look at the structural composition of the battery itself.
What is Lithium Ion Battery and What is Inside a Lithium-ion Battery Pack?
From a tiny Li-ion battery that powers your smartwatch to the massive Li-ion batteries that power an electric car, one thing remains common: These batteries are always made up of four different components; namely, anode, cathode, electrolyte, and separator. In the case of a Li-ion battery, the metal lithium forms the cathode and it is the chemical reactions of lithium upon contact with the electrolyte that make these batteries characteristic. However, it would be important to note here that lithium in itself is a highly unstable element when used inside a battery’s apparatus. Hence, a combination of lithium and oxygen together, called lithium oxide is used as the cathode for practical purposes. That is because lithium oxide is a much more stable compound as opposed to elemental lithium.
The cathode plays a huge role in determining the characteristic of the battery. Both, the battery’s capacity and voltage are determined by the type of active material coated on the cathode. The active material, in this case, contains lithium ions. The higher the number of the ions, the bigger the capacity; and the higher the difference in potential between cathode and anode, higher the voltage.
A Lithium Ion Battery uses a separator to separate the cathode from the anode because otherwise, not only will there be no current, but the safety of the entire system would be compromised.
Applications of Lithium-Ion Batteries
As established above, Li-ion batteries are available in all shapes and sizes. And that renders them to be the perfect option for power needs irrespective of the size of the system. Along with that, lithium-ion batteries offer power solutions across the spectrum- from energy storage solutions to portable energy solutions. Some of the most common applications of lithium-ion batteries are:
- Power backups/UPS
- Mobile, Laptops, and other commonly used consumer electronic goods
- Electric mobility
- Energy Storage Systems
As there are varied uses of a Lithium Ion Battery, it comes in different types of packaging. However, there are some general advantages of using a Li-ion battery over other traditional batteries
Advantages of Lithium-Ion Batteries
High Energy Density: One of the biggest advantages of a lithium-ion battery is its high energy density. To put it straight, lithium-ion batteries can last way longer between charges all the while maintaining a high current output. That makes it the perfect battery for most modern needs. As we spend more and more time on our mobile phones, lithium-ion batteries can make sure that we are on the go always and spend minimal time attached to a charging cord.
Low Self Discharge: Not only whilst being used, but lithium-ion batteries have a clear advantage when not being used as well. When kept idle, the rate of self-discharge, a common phenomenon in batteries, is extremely low. In fact, in most cases, it is as good as being negligent.
Low to Minimum Maintenance: Lithium-ion batteries are popular for their low maintenance batteries too. Most other cells like Nickel Cadmium batteries have a huge cost of ownership and maintenance.
Options: One of the biggest advantages of lithium ion batteries is the fact that they come in all shapes and sizes- presenting users with a large number of options to choose from according to their needs.
It must, however, be noted that it is not all hunky dory in the land of lithium. A Lithium Ion Battery comes with its own flaws too.
Disadvantages of Lithium-Ion Batteries
Inflammable: Li-ion batteries have a reputation for catching fire easily. As a result, they need a significant amount of protection to ensure that they don’t burst into flames at the smallest inconvenience.
Cost: While lithium-ion batteries are a technological marvel, they come at a cost. Li-ion batteries are often considerably more expensive to buy than their counterparts.
Developing Technology: Sure, there is a lot of promise in the technology of lithium ion batteries. However, we should always remember that it is a relatively new type of power source and its story is still a developing one. With time, there might be considerable changes to the technology. So, you never know.
Future of Lithium-Ion batteries
When Tesla launched their Model S, it was then that Lithium-ion batteries became a household name. It was then that the world stopped and took notice of a battery could virtually power a car for more than 300 miles. As the market for electric automotive increases and as they become more and more accessible to the common man, the costs surrounding the lithium ion battery technology will also come down. Apart from that, with the world pushing for maximum portability of most gadgets, there is a huge market for the lithium-ion technology.