All About Battery Energy

Contributing towards global net zero

Lithium-Ion Batteries

Research on the technology of Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries first started in the 1960s, with more advancements in research taking place in the 70’s and all the way till the 90’s.

It was not until the 1991 that Sony released the first Li-ion battery for portable devices.

First commercially available Li-ion batteries by Sony

First commercially available Li-ion batteries by Sony

The invention and commercialization of Li-ion batteries revolutionized portable electronics and played a significant role in the advancement of electric vehicles.

Li-ion batteries consist of several key components, including a cathode (positive electrode), an anode (negative electrode), a separator, and an electrolyte. The cathode is typically made of lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2), lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4), or other lithium-containing compounds. The anode is usually made of graphite or other carbon-based materials. The separator is a permeable material that prevents direct contact between the cathode and anode, while allowing the flow of lithium ions. The electrolyte is a conductive solution that facilitates the movement of lithium ions between the electrodes.

We can safely say that Li-ion batteries are now found in all aspects of our every day life. Due to their high energy density, lightweight design, low self-discharge rate and a relatively high number of charge cycles, they can be found in phones, laptops, tablets, electronic cigarettes, cars, renewable energy storage systems, smart watches, mobility or recreation scooters, even vehicles of industrial use such as highloaders and forklifts.

Common devices that use Li-ion batteries

Common devices that use Li-ion batteries

Another great and constantly evolving application for the use of Li-ion batteries is in electric cars, where the Li-Ion technology offers several advantages over any other type of battery:

High Energy Density: Li-ion batteries can store a significant amount of energy relative to their size and weight. This allows electric cars to achieve longer driving ranges on a single charge.

Power Output: Li-ion batteries can deliver high power output, enabling electric cars to accelerate quickly and provide sufficient power for various driving conditions. The ability to provide high power output is crucial for ensuring satisfactory performance and responsiveness in electric vehicles.

Rechargeability: Li-ion batteries are rechargeable and can undergo numerous charge and discharge cycles. This makes them ideal for EVs, as they can be recharged using electric charging infrastructure, including home charging stations, public charging stations, and fast-charging networks.

Fast Charging: Li-ion batteries support fast charging, allowing electric car owners to recharge their vehicles in a relatively short amount of time. Fast-charging infrastructure has been expanding, reducing charging times and improving the convenience of electric car ownership.

Durability and Longevity: Li-ion batteries used in electric cars are designed to be durable and have a long lifespan. With proper care and maintenance, they can last for several years and provide reliable performance throughout the lifespan of the vehicle.

Safety Features: Li-ion batteries used in electric cars incorporate various safety features to prevent overheating, overcharging, and other potential risks. These safety features include thermal management systems, cell balancing, and advanced battery management systems that monitor and regulate the battery’s performance.

Storage, transportation and handling of Li-ion batteries

Proper handling, storage, and charging practices are crucial for the safe and efficient operation of Li-ion batteries, as they are sensitive to overcharging, overheating and other misuse. In fact, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the United Nations have extensive and very strict regulations on the storage, packaging and shipping of Li-ion batteries to prevent fires, explosions and ensure safety is adhered to when handling this type of battery. The most known ones are UN3480, UN 3481 and UN3090. This is the reason behind the stickers you may see when you receive a package that contains Li-ion batteries. They look like this:

Warning label for the transportation of Li-ion Batteries

Warning label for the transportation of Li-ion Batteries

As this is a much discussed and extensive issue, we have created a separate page specifically about the risks that Li-ion batteries impose, the reasons behind them, what can happen if they are not treated properly and how we can minimise the chances of malfunctions. Read more on our article “Why do Li-ion batteries explode or catch fire?