LITHIUM Batteries: the FUTURE is here
Lithium batteries, especially lithium-ion batteries, have revolutionized the world of energy storage. We find them everywhere: in our smartphone, our laptops, our portable tools, our electric cars … And this for very simple reasons.
Lithium batteries outperform all previous storage technologies: lead batteries, nickel, zinc, sodium …
Here are the main practical benefits:
WEIGHT: Lithium batteries are three times lighter than lead batteries for the same stored energy, which explains their use in all mobile systems.
EFFICIENCY: The batteries suffer losses during charging and discharging, known as “Coulomb losses” (the Coulomb being the unit of electrical charge). But not all types of batteries have the same losses: if lead batteries have a coulombic efficiency of about 95%, lithium batteries have a performance close to 100%!
USEFUL CAPACITY: Lithium-ion can be discharged more than 80% of their capacity without being damaged or losing significantly in service life. Even the best Deep Cycle Lead batteries (intended to go far into the landfill) can only go beyond 50% discharge without suffering significant damage. Thus, 2 batteries with the same 12V capacity of 100Ah will not allow the same extraction: about 1000Wh of the lithium battery against only 500Wh of that lead.
LIFE CYCLE: The number of charge / discharge cycle that a Li-ion can achieve is very high. Classics such as LiFePO4 (one of the two most common Li-ion) easily have quadruple cycles compared to lead batteries for identical use. Some of the latest lithium-ion technologies even arrive at dementy cycle numbers (several tens of thousands!), Nano-structured titanium based LTOs for example offer a cycle number of 50,000 to 80% DOD if the Discharge intensity is not too great (0.5C).
VOLTAGE: Lithium cell voltage is extremely stable even under heavy discharge. The voltage drop associated with the discharge current is about 10 times lower than for a lead-acid battery. This allows among other things the converters to operate in better conditions.
COST OF STORED ENERGY: Contrary to popular belief, lithium batteries are no more expensive than pellets if we report the amount of energy stored at the price. Admittedly, the initial cost is about twice as high, but since the storable energy during its life is about 4 times higher, the price is finally half as much!
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT: The overall impact of lithium is less negative than lead. A kilogram of lithium thrown into the wild will have a less devastating effect than a kilo of lead because lithium, an alkaline like sodium, is much less reactive to living organisms than lead.