Lithium batteries are classified into many categories.
- 1 Lithium batteries are classified into many categories.
- 1.1 Lithium ion batteries (Li-ion)
- 1.2 Lithium Manganese DiOxide (Chemical compound – LiMn2O4 or li-manganese)
- 1.3 Lithium Cobalt Oxide (Chemical compound that contains lithium and cobalt LiCoO2, li-co or li-cobalt)
- 1.4 Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (Chemical compound LiNiMnCoO2 or NMC)
- 1.5 Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (Chemical compound LiNiCoAlO2, NCA, or NCR)
Not all lithium batteries cells are made equal, though. Different lithium batteries chemistries are available, each with its own set of characteristics and requirements that are distinct from the others. They each have their own set of benefits and drawbacks, so let’s have a look at how they stack up against one another.
Lithium ion batteries (Li-ion)
Li-ion batteries are the most popular kind of lithium batteries used in consumer electronics such as mobile phones, computers, power tools, and other similar devices. Li-ion batteries are also the most environmentally friendly type of lithium batteries. They have the greatest energy to weight ratio and are also among the most energy dense cells, which means they can store a significant amount of energy in a small space.
Li-ion cells, depending on the specific kind, are reasonably safe cells, at least in comparison to other types of lithium batteries. Most lithium-ion batteries will not spontaneously combust if they are pierced or otherwise severely damaged, but this has been seen to happen with certain kinds of li-ion and has been recorded on many occasions in the past. The possibility of a fire occurring in a lithium batteries is always there, although it is most often caused by carelessness or misuse of a lithium cell or battery. A typical example of this kind of carelessness is short-circuiting a lithium-ion battery.
Li-ion batteries also have relatively extended cycle lifetimes when compared to other types of batteries. The shortest are certified for approximately 300 cycles until they achieve 70-80 percent of their original charge capacity, while the longest are rated for over 1,000 cycles until they reach 100 percent of their initial charge capacity. There are, of course, techniques that can be used to increase the number of cycles that a lithium batteries can provide even more. Based only on manufacturer’s assessments, however, lithium-ion cells are in the middle of the pack when it comes to cycle life when compared to the other two main chemists that we’ll discuss next.
When selecting components for any project, the cost is always an essential consideration. When it comes to lithium cell costs, lithium-ion cells are in the center of the pack (you may have noticed that lithium-ion is somewhat of a “Goldilocks” chemistry, since it falls exactly in the middle of many of these parameters). There are less costly chemists (RC Lipo) as well as more expensive chemists (lithium iron phosphate), which places conventional lithium batteries roughly in the center of the pricing spectrum in terms of performance.
The availability of lithium batteries is where it truly emerges. The fact that this is the most commonly used lithium batteries chemistry means that it is also the most readily accessible in a variety of sizes, shapes, capacities, and chemical modifications, each of which has a distinct impact on the performance of the battery. The 18650 cylindrical cell, which we discussed in the last post, is one of the most popular and simplest to deal with li-ion cell types because of its size and shape.
There are dozens and dozens of excellent quality, top-brand 18650 lithium-ion batteries available, as well as hundreds of different off-brand and generic 18650 lithium-ion batteries. Because 18650 batteries are so widely utilized in original equipment manufacturers (OEM) goods ranging from electric cars to power tools, they have been created with a diverse variety of requirements.
You can find inexpensive, low-power 18650 lithium-ion cells such as Samsung ICR18650-26F cells that are ideal for simple, low-power projects, or you can find insanely powerful Sony US18650VTC5 lithium-ion cells that have the same approximate capacity, size, and weight as the cheaper, lower-power Samsung ICR18650-26F cells but can deliver over 600 percent more power!
Anyone who makes use of high-capacity 18650 Lithium batteries, by the way, owes a huge debt of gratitude to the electric power tool business in general. They were among the first to call for higher-capacity cylindrical lithium-ion cells, prompting the battery industry to react by developing new, higher-capacity cells with ever-increasing power. Today, thanks to the invention of power drills, you can purchase lithium-ion batteries that pack a significant amount of power into a package the size of your thumb.
It is difficult to predict which projects will benefit the most from the usage of lithium-ion batteries, primarily because various lithium-ion cells have such a wide variety of specifications and characteristics. However, if your project is constrained by space and weight constraints, as well as having moderate to high power requirements, lithium-ion batteries are likely to be a suitable choice for you.
A typical lithium-ion battery has a nominal voltage in the range of 3.6 V to 3.7 V, and it is designed to operate within a discharge-charge voltage range of 2.5 V to 4.2 V. Despite the fact that lithium-ion batteries are often rated for maximum capacity in this voltage range (i.e. charging to 4.2 V, then discharging to 2.5 V), it is advised to avoid depleting lithium-ion batteries all the way down to 2.5 V on a regular basis.
They are capable of dealing with it, but it shortens their anticipated lifespan. The majority of lithium-ion battery management systems (BMS) shut off discharge at a voltage of about 2.7 V – 2.9 V per cell. In addition, discharge currents less than 2.5 V will cause irreversible damage to the cell, which will lead the cell to lose its capacity and ability to maintain its rated discharge current.
Certain lithium-ion chemists are becoming commercially accessible that are intended to be charged to voltages of 4.3 V – 4.4 V, depending on the chemistry. However, this is still the anomaly, and the majority of lithium-ion batteries should never be charged to more than 4.2 V. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for the maximum rated charging voltage before using a device. Overcharging a lithium-ion battery not only shortens its life expectancy, but it may also be hazardous.
There are a variety of different li-ion chemists available, all of which are included in the broader category of li-ion cells. They all have anode (negative terminal) materials that are extremely similar or identical, yet they all have cathode (positive terminal) materials that are distinct. The various lithium-ion chemists are mentioned below.
Lithium Manganese DiOxide (Chemical compound – LiMn2O4 or li-manganese)
The term LiMn2O4 comes from the usage of a manganese matrix structure in the cathode of this kind of battery. In fact, it was one of the first commercial li-ion chemists to be created, having been developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. LiMn2O4 is capable of handling reasonably high power in brief bursts while also exhibiting excellent thermal stability. Since a result, it is considered to be one of the safest lithium-ion chemistries, as greater temperatures are needed to trigger thermal runaway.
It is also possible to modify LiMn2O4 cells such that they produce either more power or more capacity at the cost of the other. The disadvantage of LiMn2O4 is that it has a shorter cycle life than other li-ion chemistries, which is a disadvantage. The LG 18650 HB2 is a LiMn2O4 cell that serves as an example.
Lithium Cobalt Oxide (Chemical compound that contains lithium and cobalt LiCoO2, li-co or li-cobalt)
LiCoO2 was created about the same time as LiMn2O4 and was one of the first commercially accessible lithium batteries. It was also one of the first commercially available lithium batteries. In its cathode, it makes use of a multilayer cobalt structure. LiCoO2 is well-known for its cheap cost and large capacity, although it typically has a lower current rating and a shorter cycle life than other semiconductor materials. It also has a lower thermal runaway temperature than other lithium-ion chemistries, making it somewhat less safe than the others.
LiCoO2 is also the building block for RC lipo batteries, which are much more hazardous. In RC lipo batteries, the chemistry is changed in order to create a considerably more powerful cell that can withstand very high discharge currents for extended periods of time. Power is enhanced at the cost of safety, weight, and cycle life, among other things.
Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (Chemical compound LiNiMnCoO2 or NMC)
LiNiMnCoO2 is a relatively novel chemical compound that is currently in the early stages of research. While many earlier kinds of li-ion chemists have disadvantages, NMC achieves the rare combination of improving on those shortcomings while still maintaining their advantages. Many of the benefits of both the LiCoO2 and the LiMn2O4 chemists are shared by NMC. NMC cells have shown reasonably high power, capacity, and safety by combining cobalt and manganese, and then adding nickel as a final component.
NMC cells may be adjusted for better performance in almost every measurement category by changing the ratio of cobalt, manganese, and nickel in the cathode, as well as adding additional trace elements in both the cathode and anode. Other lithium batteries chemistries are capable of attaining higher overall performance in certain areas than NMC, but NMC has some of the best all-around performance statistics of any lithium battery chemistry available today.
Consequently, NMS is a fantastic “all-around” chemical compound. It may not have the best performance in any one area, but it does have some of the best overall performance of any chemical on an average basis. An example of an NMC cell is the Samsung INR18650-25R, which is designed for high power and medium capacity while maintaining a small size.
Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (Chemical compound LiNiCoAlO2, NCA, or NCR)
The chemistry of LiNiCoAlO2 is extremely similar to that of NMC Lithium batteries, with the exception that aluminum is substituted for manganese in the cathode. With the inclusion of aluminum, NCA cells are able to reach the greatest capacity of any of the lithium-ion chemistry available. When compared to most other chemistry, the disadvantages include a small reduction in cycle life and power output. The NCA cell is an example of this kind of cell.
The Panasonic NCR18650B cell Lithium batteries was used in the majority of Tesla’s early electric cars, if not all of them.
NCA, like NMC, is a highly promising chemical for the development of lithium-ion batteries in the future. It is ideally suited for applications requiring high capacity and energy density. This is one of the reasons why Tesla chose it for use in their electric vehicles. NCA excels in compressing the greatest amount of energy into the shortest amount of space. In certain cases, the decreased relative power of the battery may be compensated by using a larger battery.
However, ongoing research and incremental advancements are assisting in increasing the power of this kind of cell, making it a viable alternative to NMC Lithium batteries in terms of performance.