Advantages and Disadvantages of Lithium-ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries might be small in comparison to their competitors, but they sure pack quite a punch. This Buzzle article looks at the lithium-ion battery pros and cons.
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Disadvantage of lithium-ion batteries
First Commercial Lithium-ion Batteries
While lithium batteries were available since the early 1970s, Sony launched the first commercial lithium-ion batteries much later, in 1985.
Batteries, probably, are the unsung heroes of the technological revolution. They have enabled devices to become truly mobile and last for a lot longer. Nickel-cadmium batteries were the preferred choice for most devices, but these have since been replaced by the cleaner and more advanced lithium-ion batteries. These rechargeable batteries replaced the metallic lithium used in older lithium batteries, with an intercalated lithium compound which is used as the electrode. They are a lot more efficient than conventional batteries, and are also more environment friendly. These batteries are now pretty much synonymous with consumer electronics. Here's taking a look at the good and the not-so-good features of lithium-ion batteries.

Advantages

High Energy Density
One of the key benefits of lithium-ion batteries is that they have high energy density. What this essentially means is that they can have a high power capacity without being too bulky. This is one of the main reasons why these batteries are so popular in the mobile industry.

Low Maintenance
One of the best things about these batteries is the fact that, unlike other batteries, lithium-ion batteries require very little, if any, maintenance. All the maintenance that it needs is to ensure that all the cells in the battery bank are charged equally, although this usually does not require human intervention as a good energy management system would do this automatically.

Low Self-discharge
All batteries tend to lose charge from the moment they are disconnected from the mains. Lithium-ion batteries have a lower self-discharge rate as compared to other batteries. So, if you had a fully charged nickel-cadmium and a lithium-ion battery of the same capacity, and both were left unused, the lithium-ion battery would retain its charge for a lot longer than the other battery.

Quick Charging
Lithium-ion batteries take a fraction of the time taken by other batteries to charge. This is one of the main reasons why these batteries are preferred over the others, especially in gadgets and other devices that require frequent charging.

Small and Light
The relatively small size and weight of lithium-ion batteries make them conducive to power small light-weight devices. This is one reason why the automobile industry uses these batteries to power smaller vehicles like golf carts and electric cars. They are also widely used in aerospace applications.

Longevity
What makes lithium-ion batteries perfect for most devices is the fact that they can be used for a long time before the battery life ends. They can be charged over and over again without a very significant drop in their capacity.

Disadvantages

Expensive
The production of lithium-ion batteries can be a rather expensive affair. In fact, the overall production cost of these batteries is around 40% higher than that of nickel-cadmium batteries.

Transportation Problems
A lot of restrictions are in place for the transportation of lithium-ion batteries especially large quantities by air, although you can carry a small number of batteries along with you in your baggage when you fly.

Needs Circuit Protection
The life of lithium-ion batteries can take a serious hit when they are constantly overcharged. There's also the risk of the battery exploding in certain cases. To keep this is check, the battery has a protection circuit to ensure that the voltage and the current are well within the safe limits. This additional circuit significantly adds to the cost of the battery.

These were just the basic pros and cons of lithium-ion batteries. Although these batteries have been around for quite a while, they are still under development, and their components constantly change. Of late, lithium-polymer batteries have emerged as an alternative to lithium-ion batteries. These, however, are a lot more expensive to produce, and have a shorter life span than that of lithium-ion batteries. So, it is safe to say that we will see lithium-ion batteries around for a while. Cheers.
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Published: April 2, 2014
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