What is a lithium-ion battery?
Also called a Li-ion battery, a lithium-ion battery is a kind of rechargeable battery that uses lithium salt as an electrolyte. It began to be marketed in the 1990s and is today still the preferred type of battery for many uses.
What are the advantages of a lithium-ion battery?
- Lightweight components.
- Good ratio between charge and unit of weight and volume.
- Great capacity.
- Reduced memory effect.
- Service life with numerous, but not infinite, charge-discharge cycles.
- Low self-discharge rate.
What is the memory effect?
The memory effect is a reduction in the capacities of a rechargeable battery caused by incomplete charges and discharges.
To decrease the memory effect and extend the service life of a lithium-ion battery, it is advisable to take the following precautions:
- Keep the charge from falling below 15%.
- Charge up to about 85% of the total capacity, not 100%.
- Don’t keep the power supply connected after reaching 100% of the charge. Nowadays, most devices have security systems that cut off battery power once it has reached 100%.
- Use good-quality chargers that meet the electrical specifications of each battery.
- Calibrate the battery by optimally completing a couple of charging and discharging cycles, especially after several incomplete cycles.
What are the disadvantages of lithium-ion batteries?
The disadvantages of this type of battery primarily include the following:
- Sensitivity to temperatures:
- These batteries have up to 25% lower performance in low temperatures.
- High temperatures can cause its components to explode. Flammable; this requires its implementation to be accompanied by various security systems, raising costs.
- Limited useful life of about 3 years old.
Where does the lithium for batteries come from?
Lithium is not found in a pure form in nature because it is highly reactive and oxidizes quickly when in contact with air or water. It is found in natural salts, some volcanic rocks, mineral waters, and the composition of various minerals, such as petalite, spodumene, amblygonite, and lepidolite.
It is a relatively available material, and the largest known and measured reserves on the planet are located in the Americas. In the United States, lithium is mainly extracted from the salt pans of California and Nevada.
To manufacture lithium-ion batteries, lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) is often used.
What are the main applications of a lithium-ion battery?
- Mass-consumption electronics (cell phones, computers, and other devices).
- Low-emission vehicles.
- Energy storage from renewable sources.