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Lithium-Ion batteries

A lithium-ion battery is a type of battery used as a charging device to power electronic devices. It is considered a rechargeable battery that can be charged multiple times. It acts as a power source for the portable electronic devices commonly used in military and aerospace applications.

Lithium-ion batteries have an average lifetime of around two years. It should not be confused with lithium batteries.

Lithium batteries are not rechargeable, while lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable batteries. The lithium's ability to operate even in very low temperatures has increased lithium-ion batteries' popularity in various areas.

History

  • The battery was invented by the American polymath named Benjamin Franklin in the year 1749.
  • After that, around 1800, the Italian chemist and physicist named Alessandro Voltaapproved the battery's invention.
  • Daniell cell was the first cell invented in 1836 that was considered as the practical source of energy.
  • In 1985, a Japanese chemist named Akira Yoshino developed the prototype of the lithium-ion battery. His build prototype was based on the research of other scientists during the last 10 to 15 years.
  • Around 1991, a commercial lithium-ion battery was developed by a Japanese multinational company named Sony and Asahi Kasei. The developed product was developed from the prototype build by Akira Yoshino.

Working of a lithium ion battery

Let's discuss the components and working of a lithium-ion battery.

Structure

The structure of a lithium-ion battery is shown below:

Lithium-Ion batteries

Components

A battery consists of three components, two electrodes, and an electrolyte. The electrodes are named cathode and anode, while the electrolyte is the solution in which the movement of charged ions takes place from one electrode to another.

The cathode and anode of a battery are positive and negative.

Process in a Lithium-ion battery

As discussed, a lithium-ion battery is a rechargeable battery. It means it comprises of two processes, charging and discharging. The charging state of a battery provides electric current to the external connected circuitry.

Discharging

The lithium ions move from the negative electrode (anode) to the positive electrode (cathode) provides energy to the external circuit. The movement of ions takes place through the electrolyte. It is defined as the discharging state of a battery. The process loses energy because it is providing energy to the external circuit.

Charging

Similarly, the movement of charged ions back to the anode is defined as the battery's charging state. The charging is a process to gain back the energy. The external voltage source provides energy to the battery during the charging process. The positive electrode (cathode) provides lithium ions to the anode (negative electrode), moving through the electrolyte. The battery stores this energy from an external source.

Such energy is utilized when an external circuit is connected to the battery. Again the discharging occurs when the battery supplies energy to the external circuit. The cycle goes on to recharge the battery. Thus, we can say that lithium-ion batteries can be charged multiple times.

Material

Material signifies the use of materials used for the construction of cathode, anode, and electrolyte.

Positive Electrode

The material for a positive electrode is generally a metal oxide. It includes examples such as lithium cobalt oxide, lithium manganese, etc. It means that the cathode material is the metal oxide with added lithium. It releases lithium ions during the discharging process to provide energy to the external circuit.

The lithium-ion battery helps in increasing the potential difference between the cathode and anode, resulting in higher voltage.

Negative Electrode

The negative electrode or anode uses graphite powder as the material. The graphite powder is coated on the foil made of cooper as the electrode.

  • Graphite is preferred as the anode material due to the following reasons:
  • High conductivity
  • It can easily place lithium ions between its layers.
  • The reversible process of a lithium-ion battery is maintained for thousands of cycles.
  • Provides sufficient energy density
  • Reliable
  • Safe material

Binders

Binders are the materials to hold the electrode material particles together. It contributes a very small percentage of the battery's weight. It is an essential part of a battery that provides certain benefits, such as safety enhancement and improved capacity.

Electrolyte

The electrolyte is a lithium salt that is used as a conductor. The ions move from one electrode to another through the electrolyte. The electrolyte's primary role in the lithium-ion battery is to act as a medium for the movement of lithium ions between the cathode and anode.

Working

Let's discuss the working of a lithium-ion battery.

A chemical reaction continuously works inside a battery for its working. The battery is dead without any chemical reaction inside it. We know electricity is the flow of electrons from a negative terminal to the positive terminal. The flow of electrons comes from the element lithium present inside a battery. The lithium is present at the negative terminal or anode of the battery. It is present in between the layers of the carbon graphite. The structure of graphite keeps the lithium inside its layers. It works as a stable storage space for the lithium atoms.

Lithium-Ion batteries

The lithium atoms give up their outer electron from their outer orbit. When it finds a path, lithium moves from the negative side to the positive side. When a lithium atoms group leaves the graphite, it causes the flow of electrons from the anode to the cathode.

Similarly, the reverse process happens during recharging. The charges provide higher force to the flow of electrons in the reverse direction. The electrons from the cathode kick back the lithium ions towards the anode. The lithium atoms are forced onto the graphite and fix back into the layers of the graphite.

Types of Lithium-ion Batteries

There are various types of lithium-ion batteries, such as lithium manganese oxide, lithium cobalt battery, etc. Lithium batteries are used in most of the applications in daily life. Lithium batteries have various advantages, such as lightweight, long lifetime, and high energy density, make them a great choice.

Lithium-Ion batteries

Lithium Manganese Oxide

The lithium manganese oxide has manganese oxide as the material of the cathode. It has a low internal resistance, high thermal stability, better safety, and enhanced current flow.

The benefit of low resistance is that it enables fast charging.

Lithium Cobalt

The lithium cobalt Oxide battery is used in a digital camera, computers, and mobile devices due to its high specific energy. The material at the cathode is cobalt oxide, while the material at the anode is graphite carbon.

But, it has some disadvantages, such as shorter life and low thermal stability.

Lithium Iron Phosphate

The lithium iron phosphate has phosphate as the cathode material. The advantage of using such batteries is good thermal stability, long life, and high current. It is proffered for applications that require proper safety and a long life span, such as electric motorcycles.

Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide

The combination of three (Nickel Manganese Cobalt) is considered the cathode's best material for a lithium-ion battery. The percentage contribution of the Nickel, Manganese, and Cobalt are 60, 20, and 20.Nickel has the advantage of high specific energy, while manganese has low internal resistance.

Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide

The primary uses of lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide are its use in electric powertrains. It offers high energy density and a long life span. The disadvantages of such batteries over other types of lithium-ion batteries are the low safety and high cost. Its performance is continuously monitored for the safety of the powertrains.

Lithium Titanate

Lithium titanate battery can fast recharge. The titanate battery's primary issue is the low energy density compared to other types of lithium-ion batteries. But, the energy density is higher than the non-lithium ion batteries. The common application includes aerospace, power backups, etc.

Lithium-Ion batteries

Advantages of Lithium-ion batteries

The advantages of Lithium-ion batteries are listed below:

  • Long life
    The average life of lithium-ion batteries is around two to three years. But, depending on the storage conditions, its life can be extended. For example, a lithium-ion battery degrades faster when kept discharging. It is due to unwanted chemical reactions. It will work better if stored in a charged state.
    It means that an average lithium-ion battery can survive upto 300 to 500 charge cycles. The increasing use of such batteries has resulted in the development of various batteries with a longer lifespan. For example, Master-volt lithium-ion battery has a lifespan of more than 2000 charge cycles.
  • Fast charging
    Today, ultra-fast lithium-ion batteries are available that require very little time to charge. It means that such batteries have low downtime compared to other batteries. It also saves energy and cost due to its low power consumption.
  • Low maintenance
    There is no memory present in lithium-ion batteries, due to which it requires less maintenance. It also has a low self-discharging ability. Hence, it is often used in fuel gauge applications.
  • Longer run time
    The performance of lithium-ion batteries does not decline during its discharging state compared to lead-acid batteries.
  • Safer use
    Lithium-ion batteries are safer to operate as long as the battery is free from defects and damage. It is a safer environmental alternative compared to other fossil fuel alternatives. The use of such batteries in automobiles has also reduced the number of carbon emissions.
  • High energy density
    It is one of the essential advantages of lithium-ion batteries. It has the highest energy density as compared to other types of batteries in use today. The amount of voltage delivered by the lithium cells is also three times higher than the other technologies used to deliver power to portable devices.
  • Various types available
    Lithium-ion batteries are available in various types. It means that for a particular technology, we can use the required battery type. Some types of lithium-ion batteries provide high current levels, while some provide high energy density. It depends on the requirement of various technologies.
  • No priming required
    Some of the rechargeable batteries require priming after their first charge cycle. Priming refers to the process to improve the battery's performance. It is commonly carried out on lithium-based batteries. After prolonged storage, the electrolyte can settle at the bottom of the battery. Hence, priming is carried out to enhance its functioning.

Disadvantages of Lithium ion batteries

The disadvantages of Lithium-ion batteries are listed below:

  • Battery weight
    A charged battery has more weight than discharged battery due to the amount of energy present in it. But, compared to the other batteries of the same size, lithium-ion batteries are much lighter.
  • Proper storage required
    A lithium ion battery should be stored in a charged state. It is because the chemical reaction during the discharged state can damage the battery. The minimum required charged percentage of a battery for better storage is around 40%. The suitable temperature to store such batteries lies between 5 degrees and 20 degrees Celsius or at room temperature.
  • Expensive recycling method
    The recycling of lithium-ion batteries is complex as compared to lead-acid batteries. Most of the batteries can be recycled, but this leads to the recycling process's increased cost.
    The percentage of recycling varies on the used separation technology.
  • Not suitable at high temperatures
    The latest developed lithium-ion batteries can operate under temperature conditions upto 150 degrees Celsius. For higher temperatures, lithium metal batteries are used, which are non-rechargeable.
    The higher temperatures can damage the lithium-ion batteries due to overheating.
  • Limited Transportation

Most shipping companies prohibit the bulk shipment of lithium-ion batteries. It is due to the risk associated with it.

  • Cost

The cost of lithium-ion batteries is much higher than other types of batteries, such as nickel-cadmium. It is due to its high energy density and large current handling capacity.

Applications of Lithium-Ion batteries

Lithium-Ion batteries

The applications of lithium-ion batteries are listed below:

  • Solar power Storage
    The use of solar power is increasing in the last few years due to the abundance of available sunlight in particular areas, such as deserts. Lithium-ion batteries are used to store solar power for its use when there is no sunlight in those areas.
    The solar panels produce low resistance charging, which is a basic requirement of lithium-ion batteries. Hence, it is considered the best option for power storage.
  • Source of vehicle power
    Most car manufacturers rely on lithium-ion batteries s the source of power for vehicles. Such batteries provide considerable power for long journeys for the last few years. As compared to traditional batteries, a lithium-ion battery comes with reducing weight.
  • Power Backups
    The power backups or UPS protects the connected appliances from sudden power loss. It provides instant energy to the appliances when there is no source of power present. It also acts as an emergency power backup system for computers, medical equipment, etc.
  • Mobility Equipment
    Lightweight lithium-ion batteries offer fast charging, a long life span, low self-discharge, and other mobility equipment advantages.

Safety Hazards

There are some safety hazards to ensure the safe handling and usage of lithium-ion batteries. It is listed below:

  • Dropping and crunching on a battery can damage the battery.
  • High temperatures can damage the battery due to overheating.
  • Avoid the storage of lithium ion batteries in hot environmental conditions.
  • Keep the batteries away from the contact of direct sunlight.
  • Keep such batteries away from inflammable substances.
  • Avoid the overcharging of lithium ion batteries.
  • For long and safe storage, remove the battery from the particular device.
  • The fresh and old batteries should be kept separately.
  • Do not over discharge a lithium ion battery.

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