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What Does a Lithium Ion Battery Look Like-Quality and Working
There are many people including those using lithium batteries that don’t know how they look like. Many people own smartphones and other electronic gadgets but have never got the chance of seeing how the batteries of their devices look like. This has even become more common during these times where most companies pack their devices with non removeable batteries. So, seeing the battery will require unscrewing the device and removing a couple of other parts before you can get to the battery.
When you open any Lithium-ion smartphone battery, you will notice that most of the components inside are black. The cathode of these batteries is the one that contains most of the lithium when the battery is not charged. The Lithium in itself is silver in color but when you open the battery it will be exposed to air that will lead to formation of a Lithium metal oxide which is normally black in air.
The most used electrolyte is Li-ion battery is a Lithium salt called Lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6) and it is normally used as an organic solution. It is white in color so in most cases when the battery is open, you will see a whitish kind of solution circulating around the battery internals.
How do you know if your lithium ion battery is bad?
There are several ways you can tell that your Lithium battery is bad and has lost most of its energy retention capacity.
1.The battery only has a small fraction of its original capacity: This can be determined by how long the battery lasts compared to how it used to when it was still new. For instance, if your Li-ion battery was lasting 8 hours on a single charge and it now does less than 2 hours, it means the battery has lost more than 70% of its capacity. At that capacity the battery will no longer be able to give you peak performance and your device can even start doing random shut downs after every couple of minutes. Bad quality Lithium batteries lose their capacity even faster
2.The battery swells: If you happen to look at the battery and you realize it has swollen, then that battery is bad and needs to be replaced before it creates more severe issues. Li-ion batteries normally swell due to internal chemical discharge or due to a mechanical damage of the electrodes that lead to formation of gases while charging the battery. That is why it is very risky to continue charging a swollen battery because it can eventually explode and even catch fire in the worst-case scenario. So, when you realize the battery is swollen, simply turn off your device, remove the battery and replace it with a new one.
3.When your device can not turn on at all: This normally happens when the battery has gone below the minimum discharge voltage which is between 2.4V to 3.0V. Modern devices like iPhones have intelligent systems that won’t allow you to discharge your battery below that voltage. However, if you’re using a device that doesn’t have such a system, you can easily use the battery till it goes below the minimum voltage. At that point the battery can not be recharged again and it is considered dead.
How does a lithium ion battery work?
All Li-ion batteries have the same principle of operation despite having different designs and made with different materials. These batteries have four major components that are important in the operations of the battery and these include; the cathode, anode, electrolyte and separator. The cathode is normally made out of a Lithium metal oxide like lithium -cobalt oxide (LiCoO2) or from Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) for newer batteries.
The anode is made from carbon(graphite). The electrolyte is normally a Lithium salt solution. So, while charging the battery, Lithium ions are forced to move from the cathode (positive electrode) and are deposited on the anode (negative electrode). On the other had while you’re using the battery(discharging), these Lithium-ions now move from the anode to the cathode. The movement of these ions back to the cathode is what makes the battery to produce electrical energy that your devices use.
The electrons of the circuit that is connected outside the battery move in the opposite direction to the ions moving in the electrolyte. Another important point to note is that the movement of ions in the electrolyte only happens when there is movement of electrons in the outer circuit and vice versa. That is why whenever you switch off your phone, you will realize it will have almost the same battery percentage when you power it on again. This is because there was no movement of ions from the anode to the cathode since the phone was not in use (no electrons movement in the outer circuit).