What is a Li-ion battery?
A lithium-ion battery is an improved battery which uses lithium ions as a primary component of its electrochemistry. In the discharge process, Lithium atoms in the anode are ionized and separated from the electrons. The lithium ions move from the anode to the cathode through the electrolyte and recombine with the electrons leading to electrical neutralization.
The Lithium ions are tiny enough to pass through the micro-permeable that stands between the anode and cathode. Thanks to the small size of lithium ion, the Li-ion batteries can hold a very high voltage and storage per unit mass and unit volume.
Lithium-ion batteries have a variety of materials that they can use as electrodes. The most common one include lithium cobalt oxide (cathode) and graphite (anode), commonly used in laptops and cellphones.
For electric cars and hybrid electrics, the most common cathodes are lithium manganese oxide and lithium iron phosphate. Li-ion batteries use ether as their electrolyte.
How long does a li-ion battery last?
Lithium-ion batteries are costly, and for those using electric cars and motorcycles, they typically make the largest costs of the gadgets. It, therefore, makes sense if you want your battery to last for a long time.
The first step of knowing how to increase the life of your lithium ion battery is to know why they die. Well, during the charge and discharge cycle, small parasitic reactions happen between the electrolyte and electrodes using a lithium-ion battery cell, which after some time reduces the amount of energy the cell can store as well as its output.
What causes these parasitic reactions to kill lithium-ion batteries?
There are two main factors that lead to the quick death of your lithium-ion battery. The two include;
- High temperatures
- High Charge level (increased time at high voltages)
High temperatures intensify the parasitic reactions that occur in the electrolyte of the lithium ion battery.
On the other hand, the high charges lead to a high performance of the battery for the first few cycles, and then a crash in the performance of the cell and a decline in performance.
Fortunately, with simple steps, the life of the batteries can be prolonged.
How to make Li-ion batteries last longer
The first thing you have to do is see that your battery does not get hot. Many electric vehicles have taken this factor under consideration and installed a cooling system. However, some electric cars still depend on a passive cooling system.
Luckily, you have control of the bigger issue, which is the heat that occurs during the charging process. Even for the advanced cars with an active cooling system, during charging the battery can get pretty overheated, especially during super-charging.
Supercharging is a big plus when you are in a hurry to hit the road, but it may not serve your battery life well in the long run, especially when done repeatedly.
To increase the life of your battery, create time, and charge it at a lower heat. A long-slow charge overnight is way better than a quick charge over the tea break or lunch hour.
Next, try and charge the battery when it is at lower levels. As much as you want it to be at a constant 100%; it may not be doing it any good. Charge at a lower heat, especially when you are taking long breaks.
Most individuals do not use the entire battery pack capacity every day, and yet they charge it to 100% every day.
What you don’t know is that charging your battery to 80% can double the life of Li-ion battery life.
It is worthwhile to note that the damage of high charge happens when the battery rests at high levels charge for a long time; many people are surprised on hearing this and swear that they always to have their battery at 100% all the time!
However, 100% in small doses does not cause any harm. If you are planning on a long trip and you will be traveling shortly after the trip, then that is applicable. On the other hand, if you are planning to take a break for a while, then charging the battery to 60-80% is much healthier.
Does this apply to all lithium batteries?
Although LiFePO4 batteries are not much affected by high charge like the lithium-ion, the rule applies to all electric batteries. This includes your electric car batteries, cell-phone, and even something as small as your electric toothbrush.
One Professor Dahn jokes about the importance of cooling saying you might as well consider storing your laptop in the fridge if you are serious about the life of your lithium-ion battery.
For the most part, the simple requirements to keep your lithium-ion batteries alive can be easily applied. Avoid supercharging your electric cars unless it’s imperative. Park your electric bike in the shade. Stop leaving your phone and laptop in the sun or hot car. Most importantly try as much as possible to avoid charging your lithium-ion battery to 100%.
Advantages and disadvantages of lithium-ion battery
It is vital to learn both the advantages and disadvantages of lithium-ion batteries to grasp their level of importance fully;
General Advantages of lithium-ion battery
1.Smaller and lighter. Lithium-ion batteries are lighter compared to the capacities of other batteries. This is therefore practical to consumers whose weight is a factor.
2.High energy density. Unlike other batteries, lithium-ion batteries have a very high energy density. This simply transforms into the ability to hold a lot of energy without it reflecting its bulkiness. Advancements in technology such as in electric cars have shown more potential for higher capacities.
3.Lower-self discharge. The self-discharge of lithium-ion batteries is 1.5% per month, which is relatively low compared to other batteries. This means it has a longer shelf life when not in use.
4.Zero to low memory effect. The lithium-ion battery has a minimum to zero effect when it comes to the memory effect. This is common in rechargeable batteries where they lose maximum energy capacity when repeatedly charged after being partially discharged. This problem is common in nickel-metal hydride rechargeable batteries such as NiMH and NiCd.
5.Quick charging. A li-ion battery is quick to charge compared to other batteries; it literally takes a fraction of the time its counterpart takes to charge.
6.High open-circuit voltage. The chemistry of the lithium-ion battery results in higher open-circuit voltage compared to aqueous batteries such as nickel-metal hydride, lead-acid, and nickel-cadmium.
7.Longer Lifespan. The li-on battery can typically handle hundreds of charge-discharge cycles. Some lithium-ion batteries lose 30% of their capacity after 1000 cycles, while other advanced batteries will go for more than 5000 cycles.
Disadvantages of the Lithium-ion batteries
This is some of the challenges you are likely to face when using Li-ion batteries;
1.It is costly. The cost of production of the lithium-ion battery is 40% more than the other batteries. This is because it requires an onboard computer to control the circuitry making it more expensive.
2.Sensitivity to high temperature. As mentioned earlier, high temperatures are one of the main causes of high-degradation of the li-ion batteries.
3.Aging effect. This is because of its normal degradation, whether they are on the use or not. Storing the devices with 40% can, however, reduce the aging effect.
4.Deep discharge. The general integrity of the li-ion battery remains intact even after discharging effects. However, deep discharge or a drop in the voltage of the li-ion battery can make it unusable.
5.Safety concerns. Li-ion batteries may explode when overheated or short circuits.
Wrapping up on Li-ion Batteries
Technology is growing in all dimensions, including the transport industry. The innovation of the lithium-ion battery has given light to the dream of electric cars.
The shift has led to a better environment with low pollution, not to forget the convenience and comfort that comes with electric cars.
Read the Technical specification of Lithium Ion battery here.