Lithium Ion Batteries – A Work In Progress

They weigh surprisingly little, yet they back a greater energy wallop than any other batteries of similar size. They are based on ions, charged atomic particles. In the manner of nitro glycerin, although not nearly as explosive, they are sensitive to jarring movement. But they have come, in the past two decades, a long way from the days when their lack of stability meant that they could not be trusted outside of a laboratory. Lithium ion batteries have entered the mainstream, and when treated with caution, do things that no other rechargeable battery can do.

Lightweight lithium metal-based batteries have been the object of research since 1912, but did not achieve commercial status until the 1970s, and like all batteries of that era, were not rechargeable. Because lithium metal is extremely volatile, the lithium metal based batteries had to be abandoned and replaced with lithium ion based batteries before recharging was an option. Sony Corporation int5roduced the first rechargeable lithium ion batteries in the 1991, and they have now become the rechargeable batteries of choice.

The competition, nickel cadmium batteries, has only half the energy density of lithium ion batteries. Nickel batteries are also much more high maintenance than lithium ion batteries, which do not require a full discharge before recharging. And lithium ion batteries, when disposed of, are far less threatening to the environment than nickel ones.

Lithium ion batteries, however, are not without their drawbacks. They should be kept at temperatures below 77 degrees Fahrenheit; for every year in which they are stored at higher temperatures they will lose 20% of their capacity. Even when stored at lower temperatures, they will lose about 5%, but that is much less than other batteries. If they get excessively hot, they will be ruined. Manufacturers recommend 59 degrees Fahrenheit as the ideal storage temperature, but you can safely store lithium ion batteries in the refrigerator and allow them to warm before using them.

Another weakness of lithium ion batteries is that they begin to deteriorate as soon as they leave the factory, even when they are in storage. They will last longer if they are used, and should not be stored at more than a 40% charge. Storing them with too low of a charge, however, will either cause them to die or make them very hazardous when they are being recharged. The best way to handle your lithium ion batteries is to use them.

Lithium ion batteries, evening the best of circumstances, have a normal life span of between two and three years. They are, however, a work in progress, and lithium ion battery makers are continually researching improvements to the technology. A new generation of lithium batteries appears at approximately six month intervals, and as time goes on, their life span may very well be considerably extended.

Source by David Faulkner


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