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What are the advantages and disadvantages of Lithium-ion battery?

The use of Lithium-ion, Li-ion batteries has grown significantly in last years. They offer some distinct advantages and improvements over other forms of battery technology.


In order to gain the best from the Lithium-ion battery technology, it is necessary to know not only the advantages, but also the limitations or disadvantages. In this way they can be used in a manner that plays to their strengths in the best way.

Lithium-ion battery advantages:

* High energy density - Lithium-ion batteries can have a high power capacity without being too bulky. It is one of the main reasons why they are so popular in portable devices industry.

* Small and light - Lithium-ion battery is lighter and smaller than other rechargeable batteries in consideration of battery capacity. This makes it more practical in portable consumer electronic devices in which physical specifications such as weight and form factor are considered important selling points.

* Low self-discharge - Lithium-ion battery has extremely low self-discharge rate of about 1.5-3.0 percent per month. That means that the battery has a longer shelf life when not in used because it discharges slowly than other rechargeable batteries. Take note that nickel-metal hydride battery has a self-discharge of 20 percent per month.

* Non memory effect - Lithium-ion battery has zero to minimal memory effect. Take note than memory effect is a phenomenon observed in rechargeable batteries in which they lose their maximum energy capacity when repeated recharged after being only partially discharged. This memory effect is common in nickel-metal hydride rechargeable batteries.

* Quick charging - Lithium-ion battery is quicker to charge than other rechargeable batteries. It actually takes a fraction of a time to charge when compared to counterparts.

* High open-circuit voltage - Lithium-ion battery has a higher open-circuit voltage than other aqueous batteries such as lead acid, nickel-metal hydride, and nickel-cadmium.

* Long service life - Lithium-ion battery can handle hundreds of charge-discharge cycles. Some Lithium-ion batteries loss 20 percent of initial capacity after 500 cycles, while more advanced Lithium-ion batteries still have capacity after 2000 cycles.

* Low maintenance - Lithium-ion batteries do not require and maintenance to ensure their performance, as they has zero to low memory effect and low self-discharge.

* No requirement for priming - Some rechargeable cells need to be primed when they receive their first charge. There is no requirement for this with lithium ion cells and batteries.

* Variety of types available - There are several types of Lithium-ion cells available with cylindrical or prismatic form. This advantage of Lithium-ion batteries can mean that the right technology can be used for the particular application needed.


Lithium-ion battery disadvantages:

* Expensive - The production of Lithium-ion batteries can be a rather expensive affair. The overall production cost of these batteries is around 40% higher than nickel-metal hydride batteries.

* Protection required - Lithium-ion cells and batteries are not as robust as some other rechargeable technologies, they require protection from being over charged and discharged.

* Aging effect - Lithium-ion battery will naturally degrade as they suffer from ageing. Normally Lithium-ion batteries will only be able to with stand 500 - 1000 charge and discharge cycles before their capacity falls to 50%.

* Transportation problems - This Lithium-ion battery disadvantage has come to the fore in recent years. A lot of restrictions are in place for the transportation of Lithium-ion batteries especially large quantities by air.

* Deep discharge - Lithium-ion battery has low self-discharge. The general integrity of this battery remains intact even if partially discharged. However, deep discharge or when the voltage of a Lithium-ion cell drops below a certain level, it becomes unusable.

* Safety concerns - Lithium-ion battery may explode when overheated or overcharged. This is because gasses formed by electrolyte decomposition increases the internal pressure of the cell. Overheating or internal short circuit can also ignite the electrolyte and cause fire.

* Sensitivity to high temperature - Lithium-ion battery is susceptible to the downside of too much heat caused by overheating of the device or overcharging. Heat causes the cells or packs of this battery to degrade faster than they normally would.