A lithium-ion battery is a rechargeable battery technology that has seen rapid growth in recent years. When discharging, lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive, and then in reverse when charging.
Lithium-ion batteries are already commonplace, and it is likely that you already own numerous devices that incorporate one, such as your mobile phone, laptop, and other electronics. They also provide the technology for Electric Vehicle batteries.
Compared to other rechargeable battery technologies, such as nickel-cadmium, lithium-ion batteries have come to the forefront of the sector for a number of reasons. They have a very high energy density, and can deliver higher voltages than competing technologies. They are comparatively low maintenance, and do not require scheduled cycling to maintain battery life. Repeated partial discharge and recharge does not cause a lithium-ion battery to artificially ‘remember’ a lower maximum capacity, which is found with some competing technologies.
Lithium-ion batteries look set to play a major role in the green revolution, both by providing the power system for EVs and by allowing the wind and solar power to be stored during periods of plentiful generation, for use when generation conditions are less optimal. The ability of large-scale lithium-ion storage is also important in terms of balancing generation and demand, allowing power to be rapidly supplied into or taken out of the grid as these levels fluctuate.
The popularity of lithium-ion has seen it hampered somewhat by cost concerns, as the price and supply of lithium, as well as other key elements such as cobalt, has been impacted. Lithium prices doubled between November 2020 and July 2021 as demand for both battery storage and EV batteries continued to rise rapidly.