About lithium/li-ion batteries
About lithium/li-ion batteries
Last Edited: 14/Dec/2016

Lithium batteries are a family of various chemistries, including many kinds of electrolytes and cathodes. These batteries require 0.15 - 0.3 kilograms of lithium per kilowatt-hour (kWh). The most common lithium cell that is used in numerous consumer applications features an anode of metallic lithium and a cathode of manganese dioxide, together with a solution of an organic solvent and a lithium salt.

G. N. Lewis, an engineer, was the first to attempt to create a lithium-ion battery. However, it wasn't until in the 1970s that the non-rechargeable lithium battery was commercially accessible. Thereafter, in the 1980s, there were attempts to develop rechargeable Li-ion batteries; however, these attempts failed because of the intrinsic instability of these lithium batteries, together with subsequent safety concerns.

Pros and cons of lithium batteries

Pros

  • Lithium batteries have high energy densities, thus offering a greater ability for higher capacities than NiMH and Nickel Cadmium batteries.
  • The discharge rate of lithium batteries is relatively low, usually a half less than that of NiMH and Nickel Cadmium batteries.
  • Lithium batteries require minimal maintenance, since their rate of discharge is relatively low.

Cons

  • For safety measures, lithium batteries should not be provoked. Thus, lithium batteries require a protection circuit to restrict current and voltage.
  • Lithium batteries have a discharge current when in use; however, this discharge is at a medium rate.
  • Lithium batteries are prone to ageing, even when not in use. To increase the shelf life of lithium batteries, keep the batteries at 40% state of charge and in a cool, dry place. 
  • Shipment of extensive amounts of Lithium batteries is on regulatory control in most countries with respect to international transportation laws.
  • The cost of manufacturing lithium batteries is higher than that of Nickel Cadmium batteries.

Applications of lithium batteries

Specialised lithium batteries, with a lifetime of at least 15 years, are used in electronic medical devices, such as pacemakers, which are implanted in parts of the human body.

Lithium batteries are also used in less critical applications, such as in operating motors in electronic gadgets.

Lithium batteries are an economical preference to alkaline cells in devices such as cameras, watches and clocks, the standard oceanographic pack, because of the long operational life of the lithium batteries.