How Does a Lithium Battery Work?

WHAT IS LITHIUM-ION AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

A lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery is an advanced battery technology that uses lithium ions as a key component of its electrochemistry. Li-ion batteries can use a number of different materials as electrodes. The most common combination is that of lithium cobalt oxide (cathode) and graphite (anode), which is most commonly found in portable electronic devices such as cellphones and laptops. Other cathode materials include lithium manganese oxide (used in hybrid electric and electric automobiles) and lithium iron phosphate. Li-ion batteries typically use ether (a class of organic compounds) as an electrolyte. *Per UW Study

HOW DOES LITHIUM-ION CHARGE & DISCHARGE?

During a discharge cycle, lithium atoms in the anode are ionized and separated from their electrons. The lithium ions move from the anode and pass through the electrolyte until they reach the cathode, where they recombine with their electrons and electrically neutralize. The lithium ions are small enough to be able to move through a micro-permeable separator between the anode and cathode. In part because of lithium’s small size (third only to hydrogen and helium), Li-ion batteries are capable of having a very high voltage and charge storage per unit mass and unit volume. *Per UW Study

Lithium-ion Cylindrical Cell Anatomy

Graphic provided by the Department of Energy (DOE Site)

What are the different types of Lithium-ion cells?

POUCH CELL

Lithium-ion Pouch Cell Anatomy

The pouch cell offers a simple, flexible, and lightweight solution to battery design. Some stack pressure is recommended but allowance for swelling must be made. The pouch cells can deliver high load currents but it performs best under light loading conditions and with moderate charging. The pouch cell makes the most efficient use of space and achieves 90–95 percent packaging efficiency, the highest among battery packs. *BU

PRISMATIC CELL

Lithium-ion Prismatic Cell Anatomy

The modern prismatic cell satisfies the demand for thinner sizes. Wrapped in elegant packages resembling a box of chewing gum or a small chocolate bar, prismatic cells make optimal use of space by using the layered approach. The prismatic cell improves space utilization and allows flexible design and are often used for electric powertrains in hybrid and electric vehicles or power storage systems. *BU

CYLINDRICAL CELL

Lithium-ion Cylindrical Cell Anatomy

The cylindrical cell continues to be one of the most widely used packaging styles for primary and secondary batteries. The advantages are ease of manufacture and good mechanical stability. The tubular cylinder can withstand high internal pressures without deforming. The cylindrical cell design has good cycling ability, offers a long calendar life, and is economical, but is heavy and has low packaging density due to space cavities. *BU

What are the advantages of Lithium-ion technology?

Li-ion Longer Life

EXTENDED BATTERY LIFE

Lithium-ion technology provides 5-10 years of use compared to 18-36 months for a standard SLA or AGM battery.

Li-ion Faster Charge

HIGH-EFFICIENCY CHARGING

Lithium-ion technology offers 25%-50% faster and more efficient charge times compared to a standard SLA or AGM battery.

Li-ion Half the Size

SMALLER FOOTPRINT / LIGHTER

Lithium-ion’s chemistry provides higher energy density compared to standard SLA or AGM batteries resulting in a 50% lighter battery and smaller overall footprint.

Li-ion More Cycles

INCREASED CYCLES

Lithium-ion technology provides more than 7x times the battery cycles than standard SLA or AGM batteries are capable of providing many years of use.

Li-ion Power

MORE POWER

Lithium-ion’s chemistry not only offers more consistent power over the life of the battery compared to a standard SLA or AGM battery, but it also allows more power with each cycle use.

Li-ion Lower Cost

LOWER COST OF OWNERSHIP

Lithium-ion batteries are a great investment lasting longer and costing less over the life of the battery compared to purchasing several SLA or AGM batteries over a 5-10 year period.

Li-ion Safety

SAFER / NON-HAZARDOUS

Lithium-ion technology is much safer with no gas emissions or corrosion and the additional protection via a Battery Management System (BMS) compared to a standard SLA or AGM battery.

Li-ion No Maintenance

NO MAINTENANCE REQUIRED

Lithium-ion requires no maintenance – no periodic discharging, no water to refill, and no corrosion to clean compared to a standard SLA or AGM battery.