The Future Is Here!! Lithium Batteries!!!

September 9, 2016

      I woke up this morning, sat on my couch and decided to turn my phone on. It didn't come on however. I was pissed and decided to remove its battery; I opened the phone only to learn that the battery was fused with the phone. I got frustrated, and was cursing under my breath. However in my frustration, I happened to glance on the little words printed on it (my battery), that was when I saw for the umpteenth time "Li-ion" next to a do-not-dispose sign. This time the letters sang a different song, and it was one of shock and awe. I am a physics major, so this shouldn't have come as a surprise to me that my phone was using a Lithium-ion battery (which is what Li-ion stands for), the real surprise was, it was the first time I was considering how much we take these sort of batteries for granted. We buy a new phone, plug the battery into the phone (that is if the battery isn't embedded like mine) switch the phone on, and voila! It comes on; then we go ahead and browse, make calls, and send text messages without even for once considering the awesome work that these batteries play in our lives. Not until 268 years ago, nobody really thought about, or documented anything relating to a battery. 200+ years after and we have a battery that Alessandro Volta himself will be so proud of. So what really is it about lithium that makes it such a treasure in the world of battery tech. Yes! Lithium batteries are also used in varying fields apart from cellular power supply :D . To understand Lithium powered batteries, we need to know where batteries came from.

 

 

 

      Batteries......the history of batteries goes a long way back, and thinking about it , there are becoming lesser things that we can do without these devices every day. Batteries were first described in 1748, by the american Benjamin Franklin. Alessandro Volta, however made the first known attempt in building an electrochemical cell. It is arguable, that he would have known that this little invention of his (Volta) would come so far in helping the world we are in with its energy problem. A mere  268 years (mere is the chosen word, because in the grand scheme of things, 268 is like an hour) after the first description of what a battery is, the strides that have gone into manufacturing, improving and distributing batteries would awe even future generations. One of the major helping factors in the development of battery technology, has been the immense leaps in the fields of physics and chemistry. Like every other product that involves science and technology, the better batteries got, the smaller they got......well, not in all cases, but even the bigger battery families, use compacting techniques that make use of every cubic inch of space that the battery occupies. The implication of this is although, some batteries may be big, they have a higher  efficiency than their counterparts of the same size as little twenty years ago.

 

     Now that all that boring battery history is out of the way, we can move unto more interesting aspects of lithium powered batteries. There are many forms of lithium powered batteries in the market today, and none generates as much fuss as "LiMPO" batteries. The 'M' there stands for metal, and is usually switched with the symbol of the element that is used. in a particular case the "LiFe-PO" batteries as I like to refer to them, the metal used is iron. The usage of LiMPO batteries is currently on the rise, due to some really interesting facts. The most interesting fact for me, is that in the event of a short-circuit, LiMPO - or LFP as they are referred to in some parts of the world - batteries do not explode. To avoid nerd talk on the following advantage of LFP batteries, it is safe to say that they last 4 to 5 times longer than their counterparts. The next advantage of these guys (LFP batteries) is that every cubic meter delivers 8 to 10 times more power than any conventional battery. The big plus in all this is that they can be used at higher temperature ranges than their counterparts. Anyhow you look at these LiMPO batteries, they out rank their counterparts in battery class. All these, however come at a price.....a very costly one. LFP batteries have to be doped with carbon or graphene, because on an atomic level iron has some beef with lithium, and that makes the battery very difficult to charge or discharge, and in such case all that power density and out-performance would go to waste.

     Lithium - ion batteries are also used in powering other electronics, like laptops. 

From humble beginnings in Italy, to world wide fame, batteries have come to be part of our everyday lives. Granted should be the last thing that we should take batteries for.

 

(image credits: google XD)

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