A lithium-ion battery is a rechargeable battery used mostly for consumer electronics. Because it can be recharged, it is secondary battery. Lithium-ion batteries are not lithium batteries, which are primary, or not rechargeable, batteries. The lithium-ion battery is sometimes called "li-ion." The battery gets its name from the lithium ion that moves between an anode and a cathode, two of the primary components of the battery. A third component, the electrolyte, completes the functional makeup of a lithium-ion battery. Depending on the materials used for these three components, the capacity and life of the battery changes drastically. Basically, a lithium ion moves back and forth between the anode and cathode during discharge and when charging.
Higher Energy Density
Research on lithium batteries' instability during charging led to a lithium battery using lithium ions. Lithium-ion proved safer and has an energy density that is nearly double that of a nickel-cadmium battery. Their energy density is also higher than other rechargeable batteries, meaning they provide a lot of energy for their weight and size. They are lighter and smaller because they are made from lithium, the lightest metal, and carbon. A lithium-ion battery has between 500 to 1,000 charge cycles. It also has a low self-discharge rate. This allows battery packs that power small electronics to be designed using only one cell instead of three. Current research suggests that future lithium-ion batteries have potential for even higher energy capacities.
Low Maintenance/Lengthy Charge Hold
Lithium-ion batteries are low-maintenance. No priming is necessary for a new battery. They retain their charge for a longer time than other rechargeable batteries. With lithium-ion batteries no memory effect occurs as in nickel cadmium rechargeable batteries. So, the user does not have to completely use up the battery before recharge. Their charge is retained even after a consumer stores the battery for months.
Lithium-ion batteries are currently considered one of the most "green" batteries. Relatively few toxic metals are used to manufacture li-ions. They are recyclable, as are most rechargeable batteries, provided the consumer deposits them at a suitable recycling spot. Lithium-ions also use organic solvents, such as ether, to suspend the lithium ions.
Lithium-ion batteries are currently used mainly for small electronics. This type of battery is popular with portable electronics, such as laptop computers, cell phones, iPods and digital cameras. Additionally, lithium-ion batteries are being considered for the automotive and aerospace industries.
The lithium-ion battery holds energy promise. With possible applications for defense, aerospace and the automotive industry's environmentally friendly cars, the "li-ion" may be powering even more consumer products in the future.