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Lithium batteries: current technologies and future trends

Lithium batteries: current technologies and future trends

For centuries, the human race was in desperate need of low-cost energy storage, as the world is surely dependent on it now. As time’s passing by, the demand for lithium batteries is increasing at a rapid speed. There’s no denying the fact that wind and solar are efficient examples of renewable energies, but lithium batteries are here to stay. Lithium-ion batteries are still one of the most astonishing electrochemical energy storage systems in the world. The majority of electronics around the world are dependent on these batteries, may it be your laptop, cell phone, or tablet.

What is a battery?

Before we discuss the current technologies and future trends of lithium batteries, why not start from the history and know the basics of a battery? The pack of one or more cells with a positive electrode on one side and a negative electrode on the other side along with a separator and electrolyte is known as a battery. A positive electrode is called the cathode and a negative is known as the anode. The properties of a battery are dependent on the chemicals and quality of materials of the batteries.

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Batteries come in different capacities, some can store more energy than others. The number of times a battery can be charged or discharged is known as its cycling capacity. These features play a pivotal role in defining the price of a battery. However, companies are experimenting with how to use cheaper, denser, and lighter material to produce a battery.

Lithium-ion battery and its future

The movement of lithium-ions is known for providing energy storage in a lithium-ion battery. The ions move from the positive to the negative end of the battery with the help of an electrolyte. In such batteries, the cathode is the lithium source and the anode is the host of lithium. However, chemistry has changed in the past couple of years, continuous experimentation has given some remarkable results in the goal to achieve perfection. When it comes to positive materials, lithiated metal oxides or phosphates are widely used. In terms of negative materials, graphite and graphite silicon or lithiated titanium are given preference.

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The advancements in cell designs and materials can expand the energy limit of Li-ion batteries in the coming future. The present limits are being broken with discoveries of remarkable active materials. To combine energy and power, new compounds are taken into consideration as they will allow storage of more lithium at positive and negative ends.

Current advantages and trends

Li-ion batteries give the highest level of energy density among all the other batteries. Features such as fast charge are new to the market. These batteries also have temperature operating windows that range from -50 degrees Celsius to 125 degrees Celsius. It can be tuned according to the needs. Low-self discharge and long lifetime are the benefits we all cherish the most. These batteries have thousands of charging and discharging cycles. In the UK, the use of lithium battery golf carts is also increasing as the demand is getting higher with time. 

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Future expectations

As effective experimentation is opening gateways to unimaginable advancements, the batteries will be highly preferable for use in applications such as energy storage systems for transportation as well as renewables. The railways, aviation, and marine sectors will benefit the most, as these sectors demand high energy and power.

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Lufthansa – D-ABVU – Boeing 747-400 and LSG Sky Chefs – San Francisco International Airport

Lithium Sulfur batteries; advantages and future

Let’s compare these batteries to lithium-ion batteries to understand better. Active materials are responsible for storing lithium-ions and they act as stable host structures whenever the battery is charged or discharged. However, lithium-sulfur batteries don’t have any host structures. When they are discharging, the lithium anode starts to consume and sulfur is dissolved into several chemical compounds. The reverse process happens in recharging the battery.

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Current advantages and trends

Light active materials are used in Li-S batteries and sulfur is at the positive electrode and metallic lithium is present at the negative electrode. The benefits of Li-S batteries are beyond expectations as their energy density is exceptionally high. It is said to be four times greater than a lithium-ion battery. The space and aviation industries are in desperate need of these advancements.

The drawbacks of liquid-based Li-S are covered by Li-S batteries with solid-state electrolytes. It increases the energy density to higher levels and improves the life of the battery too. Liquid-based Li-S has a limited life as well as high self-discharge.

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Future expectations

Several technological barriers have already been broken by the recent advancements in the energy industry, but maturity level is yet to be achieved. However, the world is trying to reach it at a decent speed. There are several applications nowadays that require long battery life and limited self-discharge. These types of batteries are aimed to benefit the space and aviation industries a lot.

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