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Why Do We Use Lithium-Based Batteries?

Views: 204     Author: Hedy     Publish Time: 2023-05-23      Origin: Site

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Why Do We Use Lithium-Based Batteries?

Lithium-based batteries are everywhere and in everything, but why do we use these batteries over other options?

Lithium-based batteries have been integral to our lives for decades and are required for various electronic devices. But why have lithium-based batteries become so popular, and are better alternatives out there? What could one day replace lithium-based batteries altogether?What Are Lithium-Based Batteries?

line of various duracell battery sizes

Lithium-based batteries (lithium-ion batteries) are the most common type of battery today. The idea of lithium-based batteries was first proposed in 1976 by Michael Stanley Whittingham, a British chemist. Lithium-based batteries first became commercially available on a wide scale some years later, in 1991, when they went into mass production.

A lithium-based battery can come in many forms, with the most notable variants including lithium iron phosphate, lithium cobalt oxide, lithium manganese oxide, and lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide. These batteries contain small power cells, each consisting of a positive electrode (cathode), a negative electrode (anode), and an electrolyte.

Within the cell, lithium ions move between the positive and negative electrodes, with the electrolyte acting as the movement vector. Lithium ions (Li+) have a positive charge and are therefore attracted to the negative electrode. The two electrodes are also made up of key components. In the case of a typical lithium cobalt oxide battery, the cathode is made of lithium cobalt oxide, while the anode is usually made of a carbon-based compound known as graphite.

The cathode will give away some of its positive lithium ions, which then travel to the anode through the electrolyte, releasing energy that the battery will use for its power output. This quick and simple process is now relied on by billions of people around the world to fuel their devices.

Many brands of lithium-ion batteries are single-use. While they can power a device for weeks, months, or even years, it must be disposed of and replaced once the battery dies. However, rechargeable lithium-based batteries are now very popular, as they can save users money and produce less waste.

But why, exactly, are lithium-based batteries the top choice? What makes them such an attractive option for manufacturers and consumers?

Why Do We Use Lithium-Based Batteries?

We mainly use lithium-based batteries because of their long life compared to other battery types. Manufacturers want to produce and sell batteries that deliver power for a few days while remaining lightweight and compact. Furthermore, according to the Clean Energy Institute, Lithium-ion batteries have a very low self-discharge of around 1-2% per month, meaning they lose a lower percentage of their overall power capacity each time they're used.

Lithium-ion batteries can produce energy via a simple chemical process, making them a very attractive option for manufacturers. Adding to this, the energy density of lithium-ion batteries makes them the most preferred option. A standard lithium-ion battery has a capacity of 260-270wh/kg (watt-hours per kilogram), while lead-acid batteries can only reach a capacity of 50-100wh/kg (as per Dragonfly Energy). The energy density of lithium-ion batteries is also a key reason why they're commonly used in electric vehicles.

Because of these factors, lithium-based batteries are popular among the general public, and they're not expensive to buy. While certain brands or models of batteries can have a higher price, standard lithium-based batteries are generally quite affordable and available in millions of stores worldwide.

But lithium-ion batteries are by no means perfect. In fact, there are some glaring issues associated with this incredibly popular power source.

The Problem with Lithium-Based Batteries

One of the biggest problems associated with lithium-ion batteries is the sheer amount of waste they create. Many people choose to dispose of batteries via regular refuse once they run out of power, which is damaging to the environment.

When lithium-ion batteries are disposed of along with other general, non-recyclable waste, they end up in a landfill. Once they land here, their components can leach and severely damage the surrounding environment. Lithium, nickel, cobalt, and manganese can all pose serious contamination risks and are all present in various lithium-based battery types.

What's more, lithium extraction for this battery type also harms our planet. Lithium can be extracted via salt mining or evaporation, with both processes having a nasty effect on the environment. Contamination, increased water salinity, CO2 emissions, and biodiversity loss are all worrying side effects of lithium extraction.

SQM Lithium mine, Atacama Desert, Chile google map imageImage Credit: Google Maps.Given that the lithium battery market is expected to grow by 14.6 percent between 2020 and 2026 (as reported by Statista), it's likely that the process of lithium extraction will continue to pose an environmental threat. This is also a growing concern in the EV production industry.

We have a number of lithium battery PACK production lines, aging, capacity division and other production equipment and a large number of experienced industrial workers.

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