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What you need to know about Lithium-Ion batteries

Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) is the fastest growing battery system in today’s world of electronics.


Li-Ion batteries typically power entertainment drones that form spectacles in the night sky.
Li-Ion batteries typically power entertainment drones that form spectacles in the night sky.

Li-Ion batteries are becoming increasingly popular because they offer a high energy density compared to other battery types meaning they can store more energy in a smaller size. They are a reliable and powerful power solution for portable electronic devices and are a popular choice for companies looking to create new devices that can deliver high performance in a small and lightweight package. For example, Li-Ion batteries used in watches are tiny in spite of their small size. Their 3-volt capacity has a lifespan of as much as a decade in a low-drain watch.


What are the advantages of Lithium-Ion Batteries?

Li-Ion is the fastest growing battery system. It’s used where high-energy density and lightweight is of most importance. The greatest advantage of Li-Ion batteries is that you can use the entire charge. When compared to Nickel-metal Hydride (NiMh) batteries, Li-Ion batteries are ready for use faster because they take less time for the charging and discharging cycles.


The maximum you can discharge a traditional lead acid battery is 50 percent. Many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) recommend a discharge not exceeding 80 percent. If you do surpass an 80 percent discharge, not only can you void the warranty, but you also affect the life of the battery. Even with the Li-Ion battery, Power Products advises users not to go lower than 10 percent to be sure they’ll have a power reserve until it can be charged once again.


A Li-Ion battery provides the same voltage all the way through the entire cycle of the battery, which equates to greater capacity. With three times the voltage of NiMh batteries, Li-Ion batteries have a 3.7 voltage versus the 1.2 voltage of NiMh batteries. Lead acid batteries will see a voltage drop when you start hitting 70-80 percent of the battery’s capacity.


Types of Cells in Li-Ion Batteries

There are three types of cells used in Lithium batteries: cylindrical, prismatic and pouch.

  • Cylindrical Cells: Found in typical household cells, are similar in appearance to AA batteries, but generally larger in size.

  • Prismatic Cells: are designed for square compartments.

  • Pouch Cells: An aluminum foil pouch with an iron phosphate polymer chemistry and two terminal tabs at one end. These deliver the most lithium by volume and are designed to be placed with, or without a cell case, meaning they are internal to the device they power.


Types of Chemistries in Li-Ion Batteries

A typical battery is a device that stores chemical energy and converts it to electricity. This is known as electrochemistry and the system that underpins a battery is called an electrochemical cell. Your typical battery is made up of one or several electrochemical cells. Each electrochemical cell consists of two electrodes separated by an electrolyte, including Li-Ion batteries.


In a Li-Ion cell, the electrolyte is a lithium salt in an organic solvent. When a lithium-based cell is discharging, the positive lithium ion is extracted from the cathode and inserted into the anode, releasing stored energy in the process. When the cell is charging, the reverse occurs.


Power Products applies a variety of Li-Ion chemistries in electrolytes that are dependent on customer application requirements. Without getting overly technical, these include Lithium Cobalt (LiCo), Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt (LiNMC), Lithium iron phosphate batteries (LiFeP04), and Lithium Polymer (Li-Polymer).


Other Advantages of Li-Ion Batteries


Temperature Control

The performance, life and safety of Li-Ion batteries are all affected by the operation and/or storage temperatures. Power Products systems are designed to discharge power at a much wider temperature range than the level at which a battery can be charged. Li-Ion batteries work best when they are in an environment between 0 to 60 degrees C. When it comes to sub-freezing temperatures, a reduced capacity will be noticed, and the battery should not be charged at temperatures lower than zero Celsius.


Energy Density

Another term to consider for a Li-Ion battery is its energy density. This is the amount of energy a device can hold per unit volume or how much bang for your buck you get in terms of power and size. With a Li-Ion battery its higher energy density is perfect for smaller and more compact applications such as smaller drones.


Weight

Entertainment drones powered by Li-Ion batteries packed in a briefcase.Entertainment drones powered by Li-Ion batteries packed in a briefcase.Entertainment drones powered by Li-Ion batteries packed in a briefcase.Entertainment drones powered by Li-Ion batteries packed in a briefcase.Entertainment drones powered by Li-Ion batteries packed in a briefcase.Entertainment drones powered by Li-Ion batteries packed in a briefcase.Entertainment drones powered by Li-Ion batteries packed in a briefcase.Entertainment drones powered by Li-Ion batteries packed in a briefcase.Entertainment drones powered by Li-Ion batteries packed in a briefcase.Entertainment drones powered by Li-Ion batteries packed in a briefcase.Entertainment drones powered by Li-Ion batteries packed in a briefcase.Entertainment drones powered by Li-Ion batteries packed in a briefcase.Entertainment drones powered by Li-Ion batteries packed in a briefcase.Entertainment drones powered by Li-Ion batteries packed in a briefcase.Entertainment drones powered by Li-Ion batteries packed in a briefcase.
Entertainment drones powered by Li-Ion batteries packed in a briefcase.

You might think that more capacity means more bulk, while the opposite is true. As the world’s lightest metal, lithium gives you a huge weight advantage. Li-Ion batteries are 60-80 percent lighter than their lead counterparts. For example, a typical Group 31 battery weighs about 75 pounds, while a similar Li-Ion battery weighs 28 pounds. Li-Ion batteries are almost 4-times lighter than NiMh batteries.


Li-Ion batteries may cost more initially but are a better investment in the long run since they can offer six to eight times more cycles than lead (Pb), provide a greater shelf life compared to NiMh and give constant voltage through the entire cycle of the battery. A typical Li-Ion 18650 will have a capacity of 2.0 Amp-hours (Ah) to 3.5Ah depending on the chemistry type of the 18650 cell and whether it’s a power or energy cell. The newer 21700 Li-Ion cells are in the range of 4.0Ah to 5.0Ah capacities.


Are Li-Ion Batteries Safe?

Accidents related to the use of Li-Ion batteries have occurred worldwide and have attracted mass media attention. When Li-Ion batteries were first adopted, manufacturers sometimes overlooked the fact that they required different charging algorithms than traditional batteries. Because of that, the Li-Ion batteries would occasionally fail.


All of Power Product’s Li-Ion battery pack solutions incorporate three layers of protection that include a safety circuit as part of its battery management systems. Their battery designs are carefully engineered to ensure the highest level of performance and safety for today’s demanding applications.


Safety & Reliability Certification for Li-Ion Batteries

For Li-Ion batteries, key certification standards for safety are UL 1642, which is the standard used for testing Li-Ion cells. Battery pack level tests for safety are covered by UL 2054, UL2054, IEC62133 or UL62133: These certifications cover portable primary (non-rechargeable) and secondary (rechargeable) batteries for use as power sources in products.


To ensure safe shipping of Li-Ion batteries, obtaining the UN38.3 IATA certification from the Department of Transportation (DOT) Hazmat for packaging and shipping dangerous substances is required.


What Should Matter the Most to OEMs

A Li-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery that uses the reversible reduction of lithium ions to store energy. Experience in battery pack design and manufacturing is extremely important to ensure that battery packs are constructed correctly and are safe. Power Products has the knowledge and ability to design and manufacture safe, custom Li-Ion battery packs to meet its OEM customers’ exact specifications and application requirements.


Along with designing and manufacturing customized battery packs, Power Products provides all the proper components needed, including plastic or metal enclosures, custom battery management systems (BMS), external fuel gauging, custom connectors, labels, packaging and other refinements necessary to complete the finished unit for its OEM customer.


Power Products matches its development timelines to the customers’ needs, from concept to development and then to production - making sure that development timelines are aligned.


For the OEM, this translates to a quality product that will be delivered on time - no short cuts in its development. Power Products guarantees high quality, reliability, and performance adhering to its OEM critical time schedules.


Warranty Provision

Power Products offers a 12-month warranty on each of its battery pack products.


In summary, Li-Ion batteries are perfect for the most reliable and powerful power solution to operate portable electronic devices. And because Power Products develops and markets Li-Ion batteries especially for OEMs, the company assures that its customers are getting the highest quality for their needs.

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