A brief overview of lithium batteries

Q. What are lithium batteries?

Ans. Lithium batteries are a kind of primary batteries. The anode of the lithium battery is metallic lithium. This is the reason why they are also known as lithium-metal batteries. These batteries are quite different from other kinds of batteries since they have a much longer life and a high cost per unit. The voltages produced by the lithium batteries depend on the chemical compounds and design.

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The lithium batteries which need to be disposed of can be differentiated from other lithium-polymer or lithium-ion batteries, which can be recharged and used. The term “lithium battery” describes the various chemistries of lithium-metal. It comprises different electrolytes and cathodes, but the anode is metallic lithium.


Lithium batteries are a kind of primary batteries. The anode of the lithium battery is metallic lithium. This is the reason why they are also known as lithium-metal batteries. These batteries are quite different from other kinds of batteries since they have a much longer life and a high cost per unit. The voltages produced by the lithium batteries depend on the chemical compounds and design.

The lithium cells can produce voltages ranging from 1.5V to around 3.7V. Lithium batteries are disposable, and they differ from the lithium-polymer and lithium-ion batteries. These are rechargeable batteries. Lithium is useful as the ions can move between the cathode and the anode with a lithium compound’s help. The lithium compound acts as the cathode, but the anode is not the lithium material.

What are the applications of lithium batteries?

These batteries have a wide range of use in various portable consumer electronic devices and vehicles running on electricity. It can be an electric car or a toy-sized vehicle. The “lithium battery” term states the various chemistries of lithium batteries. It has several types of electrolytes and cathodes containing anode as metallic lithium. The primary systems are based on the design using a chargeable cathode.

Lithium batteries have several applications in critical devices needing a long life. It can be a pacemaker and other types of electronic medical devices implanted. Special lithium-iodide batteries are utilized in these devices, lasting very long, 15 years, or much longer. On the other hand, for devices requiring less critical applications like in a toy, the battery would outlast the device. So, in this case, using rechargeable lithium batteries is much cost-effective.

Lithium batteries can also be used in place of other alkaline cells in several devices such as cameras and clocks. Even if the lithium batteries are costlier than the alkaline batteries, they will provide a much longer life for these devices. It also can reduce the need for any battery replacement. The high voltage produced by the lithium batteries is the first option before opting for the use of lithium batteries in place of other types of batteries.

These batteries are also very useful in applications in oceanography. Lithium batteries are much more expensive than the standard oceanographic packs. Still, they can provide three times more than the alkaline packs. This higher cost is justified based on the cost of remote oceanographic instrument servicing, which is pretty high.

What is the difference between lithium and lithium-ion batteries?

The difference between the two types of batteries (lithium and lithium-ion) usually comes down to the fact that lithium batteries are non-rechargeable. At the same time, you can recharge the lithium-ion batteries.

The main variation between lithium-ion and lithium batteries is the type of cells used. Lithium batteries are primary batteries, which signify that they can be used only once, and hence they are non-rechargeable. So, the ion batteries have secondary cell construction, signifying that they have many uses with recharge help.

The lithium batteries were in usage even before the lithium-ion batteries came up. On the other hand, as discussed, they are not so recharged. This is the reason why companies came up with an alternative in the form of lithium-ion batteries. The lithium-ion batteries can go through many recharges before they finally degrade. This made them much more cost-effective for devices with a shorter life-span.

Even though there are rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The lithium batteries still have many usages since they have a much higher capacity than the lithium-ion counterparts. The higher density signifies why they can go for even a much longer time on a single charge, even if they are non-rechargeable. These batteries are also much easier to manufacture. They thus are also cheaper than lithium-ion batteries because they have only lithium metal as the anode. In contrast, the anode of lithium-ion batteries consists of a mixture of several materials. Additionally, lithium batteries can remain on the shelf for some years without going under degradation. The lithium-ion batteries are worth for like three years.

Since, both these batteries can provide a lot of power compared to their size. Many equipment and items have these batteries, like laptops, cell phones, flashlights, and toys. Lithium batteries are much more favored for those items where the super-long battery life is vital. Such items can be watches, pacemakers, remote control toys, hearing aids, calculators, and smoke detectors. Those items which need a lot of charging need lithium-ion batteries such as emergency power backups, smart devices, boats, solar power systems, alarms, wireless technologies, and portable power cells.

What are the benefits of using lithium-ion batteries?

Lithium-ion batteries have a lot of benefits. Some of them are as follows:

  • Maintenance: Unlike other types of batteries whose water levels need monitoring, lithium-ion batteries don’t need any monitoring. This helps in the reduction of the maintenance need for keeping the batteries healthy and operational. This also eliminates the need to train any new teams to monitor the machines to ensure optimal water levels. The lithium batteries also remove any need for engine maintenance.
  • Longevity: The average life-span of lithium-ion for any battery pack with large capacity can be some years. This longer service can time help in providing a good return on the investment in lithium batteries technology.
  • Fast & easy charging: With lithium-ion batteries with fast charging technologies, there is lesser downtime for any machine. In contrast, the machine is connected to the charging station. In a busy place, the lesser the machine needs to sit idle, the better it is. Additionally, by reducing the downtime in charging the machines, the lithium-ion batteries can be charged based on the opportunity. This signifies that the batteries don’t need to go full charge between users and thus also allows for a lot of simplification for training between members.
  • Safer- facilities: With lithium batteries’ usage, it is possible to improve indoor air quality and reduce fire risks. This also provides quieter environments with lower sound levels.
  • Environmental impacts: There are significant benefits in terms of lithium-ion batteries’ environment compared to other fossil fuel alternatives. The uses of electric vehicles are steadily growing. With that, we have noticed a very prominent reduction in the emissions of carbon in the atmosphere. With the more sustainable and re-usable form of fuel, the business can profit and benefit the environment.

What causes the swelling in lithium-ion batteries?

There are several reasons for which the lithium batteries can swell up. Some of the most common causes of swelling are as follows:

  • Overcharging: The batteries can swell if they are constantly overcharged. This results in a parasitic reaction between the electrolyte and the electrodes, which release gases and heat, which results in swelling up. It is always advisable, especially for phones, to not charge exactly to a hundred percent.
  • Poor design of the cell and low quality with lower cathode to anode stoichiometric ratios can result in contamination and swelling.
  • Damages to electrodes may occur during cell assembly or product application.
  • Excessive temperatures
  • Deep discharge of the cells of the lithium batteries

In what sizes are lithium batteries available?

The lithium batteries’ most common size is small since they are regularly used in portable and small electronic devices such as camcorders, watches, pacemakers, digital cameras, calculators, thermometers, and other communication equipment very remote car locks. The lithium varieties come in various sizes and shapes. The most common is the coin type of 3 volts in manganese variety. These are usually 20 mm in diameter, and the thickness is 1.6-4mm.

The heavy demands of these electrical devices make lithium batteries a perfect option. These batteries are mostly capable of supporting the heavy and brief current demands of such devices and maintain a much higher voltage than the alkaline cells for a longer period.

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