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Lithium batteries are something almost everybody has heard of and uses on a regular basis. They are used in cars, smartphones, laptops, cameras, and a wide range of other devices whether you know it or not. 

But despite how popular they have become, do you really understand how they work? It’s not magic that keeps your tablet screen going for hours.

Let’s take a look at how lithium-ion batteries operate, and how they have an advantage over other battery cells. 

How Lithium-Ion Batteries Work

Lithium batteries can look exactly like your standard AA batteries, but can also come into other shapes and sizes like lithium boat batteries, for example. 

Inside the metal casing for a lithium battery, there’s the anode (negative electrode), cathode (positive electrode), separator, and electrolyte. The separator keeps the negative and positive components apart. 

The positive electrode is made from lithium cobalt oxide, while the negative is made from carbon. The latter part is where positive lithium ions are stored when the battery is charged. 

The electrolyte (lithium salts are common in lithium-ion batteries) helps transport ions from the negative to the positive side of the battery. When the battery is in use, electrons are discharged and flow from the negative to the positive electrodes through the device.

Positive ions travel through the anode to the cathode through the separator. This process is done in reverse when the battery is being charged. 

There’s an electron in the outer ring of a lithium atom, which lithium frees itself of to bond with other elements. 

Pros of Lithium Batteries

Lithium packs a lot of power for its weight. In fact, of all the alkali metals used in batteries, lithium weighs the least while having the top electrochemical capacity. 

So, the bottom line is that lithium can deliver more power with the same size battery. Lithium batteries deliver about 150 watt-hours per kilogram, compared to 100 hours in a nickel metal hydride battery and about 25 for lead acid. 

That also means the devices that use lithium batteries can be smaller too. Imagine a phone battery from 25 years ago compared to today and the differences in their capabilities. 

Aside from all that, you can leave a lithium battery laying around for a long time after you charge it, and it won’t lose much of its power. You can charge up lithium batteries at any time because they don’t have a memory effect that reduces capacity over time. 

The Future of Lithium 

Lithium-ion batteries were first introduced commercially in 1991, and they’re regarded as a way to reduce emissions and increase energy sustainability in the future. They can also act as backup power for homes in the case of an extended power outage. 

Prices are falling due the battery’s popularity and new factories are set to open across the world, fuelling more production. Because of the costs, there’s more demand for it. 

Speaking of the future, visit our website often to read more about current and future technology that can help you at home or work.