What Is A Lithium Battery
A Lithium battery is a type of rechargeable battery frequently used to power a wide range of devices, from laptops and smartphones to medical equipment and electric vehicles.
As the name suggests, Lithium batteries are based on the flow of Lithium ions that move back and forth between two electrodes, which are crucial components of the battery.
Released in 1991, the first commercial Lithium-Ion battery was developed by Sony, based on earlier research by John Goodenough. And for decades, good enough has been a great way to describe Lithium batteries , but not anymore.
Although they present significant advantages compared to other already existing types of batteries such as lead-acid or Nickel-Cadmium theres still plenty of room for improvement, especially regarding safety.
Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries
Like other alternative battery storage options, VRFBs are better suited to long duration and overnight applications. Moreover, the electrolyte is highly reusable. VRFBs are already competitive when viewed on LCOE basis over its lifetime, says Australian Vanadium Manager Director Vincent Algar. He explained that the long-term risk mitigation with VRFB is a value add that also needs to be considered as VRFBs are not constrained by number of cycles or depth or discharge constraints with permanent battery damage and difficulties in recycling.
Because of that long lifespan and no hassle temperament, VRFBs are a great BESS alternative to remote systems, off-grid projects, and microgrid solutions, particularly in the mining, agricultural and data sectors.
Vanadium is much more abundant than lithium. as complementary to each other and with the strong demand for lithium-ion batteries from the electric vehicle market, it makes sense to use VRFBs where they fit particularly well, explained Algar.
We are starting to see the evolution in storage demand shifting from shorter duration, shorter life products, to those that supply a safe, sustainable, reliable and flexible, long-term source of clean energy.
New Kids On The Block: Lithium
New battery types are in research and development already, representing dozens of different universities, companies and state initiatives all working toward alternatives to lithium-ion batteries.
There has been considerable success in identifying potential new materials to base these batteries on, with everything from sulphur to vanadium to graphite coming under the microscope.
The bar for entry is high, as lithium-ion represents a major step up from any previous commercial battery technology. An interloper would need to match, if not beat, lithium-ions energy density, rechargeability, raw material and manufacturing costs, safety and scalability.
Considering the amount of capital already invested in lithium-ion manufacturing, a challenger would also likely need to be compatible with, and preferably simplify the lithium-ion manufacturing process.
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Exciting Times Ahead For Supercapacitors In The Future Keep An Eye
With the above comparisons and all the examples of Supercapacitors various applications under exploration by numerous OEMs, there doesnt seem to be any mass movement towards replacing batteries with Supercapacitors. So, why is all this excitement?
Supercapacitors are superior to traditional capacitors due to their ability to store and release energy however, they havent been able to replace the function of conventional Lithium-Ion batteries. Its mainly because Lithium-ion batteries pack a punch that Supercapacitors cant, in the form of specific energy or energy density .
Based on recent research in Supercapacitors, a breakthrough could be achieved from Graphene-based Supercapacitors, leading to significant advances in Supercapacitors. A study at the Queensland University of Technology and Rice University resulted in two papers published in the Journal of Nanotechnology and Power Sources. Researchers at these universities proposed a solution consisting of two Graphene layers, with an electrolyte layer between them. This resulting film is strong, thin, and can release large amounts of energy in a short time. These factors are a given-it is a Supercapacitor after all. This study makes this study unique and interesting because the researchers suggest that the new, thinner Supercapacitors could replace bulkier batteries in future electric vehicles.
Utilising Existing Production Processes
The reality of use in a mass-produced electric car could nevertheless come sooner than that of solid-state batteries: It is estimated that the corresponding level of maturity for large-scale industrialization will be reached more quickly than, for example, by All Solid State, because due to the drop-in technology the scalability can be classified as relatively high.
Neither ZSW nor P3 are currently committing to a price. Optimists, however, assume a cost of $30 per kilowatt-hour. CATL is very likely to produce sodium-ion cells in the period from or after 2023. At the same time, more electric cars with LFP cells will be coming to market in Germany. Volkswagen, for example, has already specified this for its entry-level ID.1 and ID.2 models. So, because of their better performance and even lower cost, while being more environmentally friendly, sodium-ion cells could become a competitor to LFP in the second half of the decade. As always with batteries, there is no cause for euphoria. But there is reason to be confident: at the moment, cost reduction is the most important aspect of electromobilitys global ramp-up.
Reporting by Christoph M. Schwarzer, Germany. Edit & translation by Nora Manthey, UK.
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How Does A Lithium Battery Work
Several individual electrochemical cells where oxidation and reduction reactions occur compose a Li-ion cell. Each cell comprises four main parts: an anode , a cathode , an electrolyte, and a membrane separator.
Here is a simplified scheme of a Lithium-Ion Battery:
Due to its chemical properties, lithium atoms easily give up an electron , and become lithium ions.
Discharge: the released electrons flow through the device towards the positive electrode. Meanwhile, lithium ions move from the anode to the cathode, through the electrolyte.
Recharge: External energy causes oxidation of the species in the cathode, forcing electrons to move to the opposite direction, towards the anode. The lithium ions then also move to the anode, where they suffer reduction.
This way, chemical energy is stored and converted into electrical energy.
Pros & Cons Of Lithium Batteries
Here are some of the pros and cons of Lithium batteries:
- Limited and relatively short lifespan
- The ability to hold charge fades over time
- Pose fire risks
- Not cost-effective for grid integration
To solve this issue, many companies are currently investing a lot of time and money into developing new technologies that could potentially replace the popular Li-ion batteries for good in the near future.
In order for you to better understand these alternatives the science behind them and what they promise lets first take a quick look at how a Lithium battery works.
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Sodium Instead Of Lithium
The solution could be sodium-ion batteries, whose development has recently made astonishing progress. In the foreseeable future, they could replace the lithium-ion batteries currently used not only in electric vehicles, but also in smartphones and laptops.
The two alkali metals lithium and sodium are chemically very similar. Although sodium does not have the energy density of the comparatively rare lithium, it is widely and cheaply available.
White gold: Lithium, which is rare and consequently expensive, is lighter and has a higher energy density than sodium
What Are The Alternatives To Lithium In Ev Batteries
We’ve listed some of the well-known and emerging options to lithium-ion batteries, highlighting the companies that could play a role in these alternative technologies’ development.
Having previously discussed the forced labour exposures in lithium battery EV supply chains in China, this article will explore the lithium EV battery alternatives.
Lithium-ion batteries, also known as Li-ion, have been the most widespread battery storage option in EVs across the world thanks to their efficient energy storage capabilities for long time periods. However, costs, technical limitations, supply chain issues, forced labour exposures and environmental impact associated with lithium-ion batteries pose a challenge for EV adoption and for a wider goal to tackle climate change.
All these reasons push the industry to invest in the development of lithium-ion battery alternatives.
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Many New Ideas And Many More Batteries
As companies keep coming up with cool new e-gadgets for us to buy, the number of batteries that need to be charged is likely to keep rising. In addition to regular e-bikes, there are even e-unicycles. Not into peddling? Then how about a hoverboard, inspired by cult classic “Back to the Future II”?
E-Bikes and co: How eco-friendly is electromobility?
Battery Density Key To New Applications
Battery density is important for transport planes, trains and automobiles.
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Why Supercapacitors Are Gaining A Lot Of Interest And How Does It Compare With Lithium
The answer to this question can depend a lot on the applications they can be used for. There are indeed a few clear advantages and disadvantages of each technology. As mentioned earlier, batteries have a much higher energy density than Supercapacitors.
It means that batteries are more suited for higher energy density applications, for example, an application where a device needs to run for long periods on a single charge. On the other hand, Supercapacitors have a much higher power density than batteries. It makes them ideal for high-drain applications like powering an electric vehicle. Please refer to the below exhibit for a comparative view.
Supercapacitors also have a much longer lifespan than batteries. A regular battery can handle around 2000-3000 charge and discharge cycles, while Ultracapacitors can usually sustain more than 1,000,000. It can represent considerable savings in materials and costs.
The excitement certainly does seem well deserved. Supercapacitors can recharge within seconds, and unlike batteries that rely on internal chemical reactions and hence wear out soon, Supercapacitors do not degrade over time. A 2.7 volt Supercapacitor today will be a 2.7 volt Supercapacitor in 15 years. In comparison, all current battery designs suffer gradual performance loss, which means your 12 volt battery today might be an 11.4 volt battery in just three years.
Were Facing A Lithium Battery Crisis: What Are The Alternatives
In the age of electrification, we take rechargeable batteries for granted. From phones and laptops to hi-tech cameras – these batteries have one thing in common. Theyre all made of lithium.
Lithium-ion batteries have taken the world by storm in recent years. They are the most popular battery storage option today, controlling more than 90 per cent of the global grid market. And they store energy efficiently – for a long period of time.
But their most notable use nowadays is in electric vehicles.
Over the last decade, a surge in lithium-ion battery production has led to an 85 per cent decline in prices – making electric cars commercially viable for the first time in history.
Batteries pave the way towards a future without fossil fuel dependence, which is crucial if we want to slow down climate change.
But lithium is not the most environmentally friendly chemical element we could be using. In South America, huge lithium reserves are using up water by the gallon, causing devastating water-related conflicts among locals. A whopping 2.2 million litres of water is needed to produce one ton of lithium.
Lithium-ion batteries are the most popular storage option today, controlling more than 90% of the global grid market.
Lithium extraction also harms the soil and can cause air contamination.
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What Is A Lithium
Lithium-ion batteries are a type of intercalation battery, which means the same ion is reacting at both the anode and cathode, travelling between the two through a liquid electrolyte.
As the battery discharges, the lithium ion is released from the anode, travels through the liquid electrolyte, and is absorbed by the cathode. Recharging reverses the process.
Lithium-ion batteries have an energy density of anywhere from 100-265 watt-hours per litre, much higher than most other types of batteries.
They are not without their downsides, however, requiring expensive cathode and anode materials in the form of cobalt, nickel, manganese and aluminium.
They are also unstable in some environments, namely when overheated or when the internal battery is exposed to water or air.
They have been known to cause dramatic exothermic reactions under the wrong circumstances, which led airlines to ban batteries with more than 160 watt-hours from being carried onto flights as personal baggage.
Similarly, lithium-ion batteries must be kept within careful charging and discharging cycles and voltages, lest they degrade or combust.
Finally, lithium-ion batteries have a set lifespan of 2,000 to 3,000 cycles and will slowly deteriorate over time even when not in use, just like alkaline or nickel-cadmium batteries.
Current models are expected to last 10 to 20 years in the right temperature conditions, with a slow but progressive decline in energy storage capacity as theyre charged and recharged.
Top 7 Lithium Battery Alternatives
Wondering what are the most promising Lithium battery alternatives? You came to the right place!
With the latest advancements in renewable and green technologies, the need for efficient ways to store energy became even more evident.
Although Lithium batteries have provided significant progress to the field of technology, they still leave a lot to be desired.
Shorter charging times, higher energy density, lower costs, and reduced safety risks are just a few of the many improvements that still need to be made if we want renewables to truly compete with fossil fuels.
In light of this, Lithium Battery alternatives have been an extremely important subject of research, and it looks like we are only a breakthrough away from finally revolutionizing the world of energy storage.
In this article, well present the top 7 Lithium battery alternatives.
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What Are The Disadvantages Of Lithium
The disadvantages of lithium-ion batteries:
- For lithium-ion batteries, it needs the protection circuit to maintain voltage
- The transportation of large amounts of lithium-ion batteries comes under regulatory provisions that lead to transportation restrictions.
- The manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries is costlier than nickel-cadmium
- Lithium-ion batteries suffer the issue of ageing.
- The lithium-ion batteries are considered to be an immature technology.
New Battery Technologies That Will Change The Future
Your phone is about to go deadagainand you cant find a place to plug it in. Your laptop is getting hotis the battery about to catch on fire? How far from home should you drive your electric vehicle? As scenarios like these become increasingly common, its clear that we need batteries that store more, last longer, and are safer to use. Fortunately, new battery technologies are coming our way.
Lets take a look at a few:
1. NanoBolt lithium tungsten batteries
Working on battery anode materials, researchers at N1 Technologies, Inc. added tungsten and carbon multi-layered nanotubes that bond to the copper anode substrate and build up a web-like nano structure. That forms a huge surface for more ions to attach to during recharge and discharge cycles. That makes recharging the NanoBolt lithium tungsten battery faster, and it also stores more energy.
Nanotubes are ready to be cut to size for use in any Lithium Battery design.
2. Zinc-manganese oxide batteries
5. TankTwo String Cell batteries
For now, we may have to put up with phones going cold, laptops getting hot, and EVs not ranging far from home. Solutions seem to be on the horizon, however, so a better battery-powered future is within sight.
Karen Wilhelm has worked in the manufacturing industry for 25 years, and blogs at Lean Reflections, which has been named as one of the top ten lean blogs on the web.
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When Can We Expect It
Several kinds of all-solid state batteries are likely to come to market as technological progress continues. The first will be solid state batteries with graphite-based anodes, bringing improved energy performance and safety. In time, lighter solid state battery technologies using a metallic lithium anode should become commercially available.
Have We Found A Better Alternative To Lithium
Yan Yao and Ye Zhang work with all-solid-state sodium batteries.
Currently the preferred technology to power electric vehicles, lithium-ion batteries, has become too expensive for long-duration grid-scale energy storage systems not to mention that lithium itself is becoming more and more elusive.
Li-ion batteries are preferred technology for a reason high energy density and capacity to be combined with renewable energy sources to support grid-level energy storage but lithium carbonate prices are at an all-time high. Supply-chain issues, the Russia-Ukraine war, and increased demand are all to blame for the high price.
New research published in Nature Communications and conducted at the University of Houston may have nipped the problem in the bud. The work eyes ambient-temperature, solid-state sodium-sulfur battery technology as a viable alternative to lithium-based battery technology for grid-level energy storage systems.
Cullen Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Yan Yao and his colleagues developed a homogeneous glassy electrolyte that enables reversible sodium plating and stripping at a greater current density than previously possible.
A novel form of oxysulfide glass electrolyte has the potential to satisfy all these requirements at the same time, the research shows. A high-energy ball milling process was used to create the electrolytes at room temperature.
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About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is Americas first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, over 30 research centers, more than 140 academic programs including 25 new programs, and a dynamic community made up of over 6,800 students and 104,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include upwards of 155 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration. To learn more, please visit www.rpi.edu.
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