Lithium Ion Battery

Lithium Ion Battery

Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) power everything from portable electronics to electric vehicles. They’re customized for each device to ensure consistent electrical output.

The cathode is a carefully crafted crystal that supplies the battery’s proper voltage. But slight changes to its structure or composition can compromise performance.

Mining these critical minerals isn’t easy, either. They’re typically found in just a few countries and often pose risks to nearby communities.

The Basics

Many different kinds of batteries are used to power the devices we use everyday, ranging from cell phones and laptops to electric vehicles and production equipment. While the physical forms of these batteries vary, they all produce electricity in similar ways. There are two main categories of battery: primary, which can only be used once, and secondary, which can be recharged again and again. Lithium-ion batteries are a type of secondary battery that uses lithium to store and transport energy.

A lithium-ion battery is composed of negative (anode) and positive (cathode) electrodes, a separator and an electrolyte that conducts lithium ions during charging and discharging. The anode is typically made of graphite, while the cathode is often a metal oxide such as lithium cobalt oxide, nickel Lithium Ion Battery manganese dioxide or lithium iron phosphate. These chemistries each provide different characteristics such as voltage and capacity.

The separator is a thin, porous plastic film that separates the anode and cathode while allowing lithium ions to pass through during charging and discharging. It also prevents short circuiting, which occurs when current flows down a wrong path.

During the charging process, the charger applies a constant voltage to the battery. This increases the overall battery voltage until it reaches its top-of-charge limit, which is usually around three to four volts per cell. It is then switched off and the battery slowly discharges, releasing its energy as electrons flow from the anode to the cathode.

The number of cells that are connected in series and parallel determines the total cell voltage, or the amount of energy that it can carry. For example, a 5S7P battery contains five individual cells connected in series and seven in parallel. The energy density of a lithium-ion battery is also determined by its internal structure and the cathode material.

The Materials

A lithium battery is composed of a positive anode, negative anode, separator, and electrolyte. The electrolyte is a liquid solution that allows lithium ions to move back and forth between the electrodes to power the device. It can be made of a variety of organic carbonates but most are lithium salts such as lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6). The choice of an electrolyte is important since its composition, viscosity, and temperature limits the amount of current that can flow through it during discharge.

During operation, the lithium ions pass between the anode and cathode to power a device such as a digital camera or mobile phone. Lithium ions are also stored in the anode for charging when not in use. This is what gives lithium batteries their high energy density that allows them to power multiple devices over long periods of time.

The anode is typically made of graphite, which has the ability to store lithium ions for extended periods of time. The negative electrode in most batteries is made of copper, aluminium, or a combination of the two. This material is crucial to battery performance as it helps ensure that the lithium ions can travel between the anode and cathode.

In most lithium batteries the positive and negative electrodes are separated by a porous polymer. This separation is critical to prevent electrical shorting between the electrodes. The polymer must also be able to gel with the liquid electrolyte.

A new binder created by Lawrence Berkeley researchers may be a key component in addressing this issue. The glue-like material is designed to release the metals in a safe manner so they can be filtered out and recycled. The technology is still in the experimental stage but if successful it could lead to safer, higher-performing batteries.

Chargers

Incorrect battery charging can not only seriously reduce the lifespan of your lithium ion battery but in extreme cases may cause it to explode and burn. Lithium batteries have many built-in mechanisms to Lithium Ion Battery prevent damage and safety issues but these are often bypassed when batteries are charged with incorrect chargers.

The most important feature of any lithium ion battery charger is the ability to detect when the battery has reached full charge. This is because lithium ion batteries do not tolerate overcharging. When overcharging occurs, the lithium ions in the electrodes are no longer moving. Once this happens, the electrolyte will be converted to thermal energy and the battery will overheat. This significantly reduces battery life.

Consequently, the lithium ion battery makers prescribe strict charging guidelines. As a general rule, they recommend not charging the batteries beyond the stage that is known as the saturation charge. This means that the battery should only be charged once the voltage per cell reaches around 4.2 volts. This stage is also referred to as the “ready” or “full charge” state of the battery.

Most lithium ion batteries are built using graphite type electrodes. The elevated charging temperature in these batteries causes the atoms of the graphite to exfoliate and this causes permanent capacity loss. Most of the modern lithium ion battery manufacturers have developed advanced ion mobility technology to minimize this effect. However, it is still possible to overcharge the batteries even with these advances.

Another very important feature of any battery charger is the reverse polarity protection. This ensures that the battery is not accidentally charged in reverse polarity, which can severely damage the internal components and reduce the battery’s lifespan. The latest lithium ion battery chargers provide reverse polarity protection as a standard feature.

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