Lithium-ion batteries have built a reputation for itself that no product can overcome, at least for the time being. Lithium-ion batteries have proven to be the best solution for a rechargeable source of energy. Not only that, but nowadays energy can be stored from renewable resources (sun and wind) directly to lithium-ion batteries.
Scientists believe that there is no need to find a replacement for lithium-ion batteries. Instead, all of the current research work is to upgrade those batteries. Since the first lithium battery that was designed in 1970 until this moment, all that was done in the field was upgrading and enhancing the same battery "Lithium-ion battery"
The current researches focus on removing the flammable liquid from inside the lithium-ion batteries. The liquid that can cause those batteries to catch fire. The call the new upgrade a Solid-state battery.
It is also worth mentioning that the Lithium-ion batteries now are the most economical solution for portable energy sources. Their manufacturing prices have become very affordable, that they are the number one choice for every single mobile phone, laptop, and even electric cars manufacturers.
Another reason that makes the Lithium-ion batteries irreplaceable -at least for now- is their size. Storing Lithium-ion batteries in bulk is a simple task. They are compact, small, flexible and versatile. They can be stored easily and hassle-free. Not only that, but their shelf life is phenomenal. One battery can be stored for up to ten years.
Researches now are also focusing on how to integrate Lithium-ion in all energy storage aspects. However, the problem they are facing is the discharge rate, which is relatively small. The challenge now is to produce a lithium-ion battery with a very slow discharging system that can last for more than one day. Moreover, researches are also concerned by the size of these batteries. They want to make a small battery with a large capacity. As mentioned before, electric cars' batteries before were around two tones, nowadays they are only 300 kg. If they could make it even less, it would be a huge step in the right direction.
In addition, integrating lithium-ion batteries in more applications will eventually save the planet. That is because -as previously mentioned- you now can store energy in the battery coming from renewable resources. Thus, reducing the need for fossil fuels. If we succeeded in reducing the need for fossil fuels even by 5% annually. Then in less than a century from now our planet would be saved from the harmful emissions that come from using fossil fuels.
How does lithium work in the battery?
Lithium-ion batteries have the same working mechanism. When the battery is being charged, the Lithium-cobalt oxide "the positive electrode", gives some of its lithium ions, these ions move throughout the electrolyte to the negative electrode "the graphite" and subside there. The battery during this process store energy. After the charging process and during discharging; the Lithium-ions move back across the electrolyte from the negative electrode to the positive once again, which in turn produces energy that powers up the device the battery is attached to.
Unlike conventional batteries, Lithium-ion batteries have built-in electronic controllers. These controllers regulate how the batteries charge and discharge. These controllers prevent overcharging and overheating that can cause Lithium-ion batteries to explode in some cases.
During the charging and discharging process in the Lithium-ion batteries, electrons flow in the opposite direction of the movement of the ions around the outer circuit. It is important to note that electrons do not flow throughout the electrolyte itself. The electrolyte is effectively an insulating barrier and it does not affect the movement of the electrons.
Ions movement throughout the electrolyte and electrons moving around the external circuit in the opposite direction are two interconnected processes. If either of these movements stops the other stops too. When the battery is completely discharged and ions stop moving through the electrolyte, the electrons stop moving at the same time through the outer circuit. That is why you lose power in your device.
Discharging happens at a large rate when the device powered by the Lithium-ion battery is on; however, discharge also occurs even when the device is powered off. That is one downside for the Lithium-ion batteries.
To summarize how Lithium-ion works, it is as follows:
" During charging, lithium ions flow from the positive electrode to the negative electrode throughout the electrolyte.
" Electrons also flow from the positive electrode to the negative electrode around the outer circuit.
" Electrons and ions combine together at the negative electrode and deposit lithium there.
" When no more ions are present to flow, the battery is then fully charged and ready to be used.
" During the discharging process, the ions flow back through the electrolyte. Flowing back from the negative electrode to the positive electrode. The electrons flow from the negative electrode to the positive one but throughout the outer circuit. This process is what provides power to your device.
" When all of the ions inside the battery are moved back, then the battery is completely discharged and it needs to recharge once again.