We are so used to having lithium batteries in our lives these days that we generally take for granted the impact they have made on making our lives so much more mobile.
The original lead-acid and nickel-cadmium batteries of the seventies and eighties were unfulfilling when it came to high energy output, and the search was on for an alternative that offered more energy and power, was safer to use, eliminated the risk of explosion, and provided longer cycles at lower costs.
Today, as we contemplate the uses of lithium-ion batteries and how these uses have multiplied over the years, the question comes to mind - has product development driven the advance of lithium-ion, or has the advancement of lithium-ion driven the speed of product development?
Why Lithium Batteries?
Certainly, the green revolution and a protracted move away from fossil fuels are both factors that are driving investment in creating commercial lithium battery solutions. While the 1990s saw the success of li-on batteries, specifically in the use of mobile phones and laptops, this fledgling technology still had a long way to go. However, it was clear from those initial achievements how versatile the technology could potentially be, and while the battery suppliers concentrated on refining their custom li-po battery packs, innovators worked on creating the challenges and opportunities that would put these battery packs to the test in terms of performance levels.
The main areas of development were maximising energy density, length of charge and recharging rate, stability, and safety.
What Are Lithium Batteries Used For?
Anyone who enjoys watching throwback police dramas that are based in the seventies and eighties will wonder how on earth anyone managed to function before the arrival of mobile telephones. It seems easier to crack crimes these days with the amount of technology we have on offer.
Back then, if you were running late for an appointment, you would have to stop and call from a public phone box. If you wanted to send someone a message, you either wrote a letter and put it in the post or put it in someone’s pigeonhole at work.
Household bills were paid by writing a cheque and returning it with a remittance slip that you could detach from the monthly bill. Newspapers were printed daily on paper and bought in a shop or kiosk - black inky fingers were an unhappy consequence. Telephone calls were made from the hallway.
The uses of lithium batteries have completely overturned the way in which we carry out even the simplest of our daily tasks. Smartphones, laptops, watches, portable power packs, IoT devices - these literally scratch the surface of how li-on has overturned not just our consumer world but our commercial one too.
Electric Powered Vehicles
Countries around the world have set themselves ambitious targets for increasing the use of electric vehicles and reducing the use of petrol and diesel in a bid to reach carbon zero status. The UK government, for example, has a target of ending the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 and for all new cars and vans to be fully zero emission by 2035. The role that the commercial lithium battery plays in this pledge is pivotal. Without the right battery technology in place, the cost-effectiveness of such a goal is not viable, and the public will not have the confidence or the finances to comply.
Boosting the Green Energy Supply
One of the biggest challenges of moving away from fossil fuels is the ability to harness the production of energy generated by solar, wind or waves for use when one of these sources is not producing its maximum capacity. For example, solar power is highly effective during the day, particularly on sunny days. However, as soon as evening comes, that power source simply disappears. Being able to store what has not been used to maintain a stable and consistent supply is crucial when it comes to the capability of the custom li-po battery packs.
What Are The Limitations Of Lithium Batteries?
Whether it is powering the next generation of smartphones or contributing to an entire nation’s grid network of green energy storage, there are still considerable challenges ahead for lithium battery manufacturers.
The careful balance between maximising energy density and maintaining battery integrity to ensure the safety of users in different environments is top of the list. Recent news reports about phones spontaneously combusting on planes illustrate what manufacturers do not want to happen, and building in those thermal breaks on ever larger, more powerful battery packs is a significant area of research.
Disposal is also an element that needs addressing. While recycling can be mitigated through recharging, anyone with a smartphone that is more than a couple of years old will understand how the battery starts to decline in performance quite quickly.
If you have questions about the development of lithium batteries in your product development, then contact YOK Energy for an in-depth, confidential exploratory chat.