First: About Battery Chemistry

A typical battery contains three components: The cathode, the anode and the electrolyte. The cathode and the anode are the two electrode terminals (positive and negative) of the battery and they are immersed in the electrolyte. The chemical reaction between the materials causes electrons to go back and forth between the anode and cathode. Energy generated from these moving electrons begins the work of battery charging and discharging, the rate being restricted by the speed with which these ions move.  

 

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Lithium Iron Phosphate vs Lithium Ion Batteries


Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) Rechargeable Battery

Uses: UPS (Battery back-up/power protection system)

Components: Lithium iron phosphate cathode

How it works: Referred to as the “beltway battery”, lithium iron phosphate particles are coated in a glassy material called lithium pyrophosphate causing the ions to move faster and more easily within the battery utilizing a bypass system that allows the lithium ions to enter and leave the electrodes at a speed great enough to fully charge a battery in under a minute. 

Safety, Performance & Durability, Reliability and Cost Effectiveness

Advantages:

  • Newer battery chemistry
  • Safe/nontoxic cathode material
  • Superior thermal and chemical stability/battery remains cool at room temperature 
  • Less sensitive to temperature extremes
  • Good power density (the rate that energy can be drawn from them) than lithium ion - delivers virtually full power until it is discharged
  • Long cycle life
  • More tolerant to full charge conditions and is less stressed than lithium ion systems if kept at a high voltage for a prolonged time
  • Low cost/economical
  • Lightweight, smaller in size than lead acid batteries

Disadvantages:

  • Low energy density
  • Offer less performance than lithium cobalt type
  • Slightly heavier and more bulky than lithium ion batteries

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Lithium Ion (Lithium Cobalt Oxide - LiCoO2) Rechargeable Battery 

Uses: Most popular for laptops, cell phones, and other consumer devices/home electronics

Components: Contains a lithium-based cathode (made from a lithium cobalt dioxide which is hazardous in nature and can cause thermal overrun in some cases), a carbon/graphite anode in a lithium-based solvent acting as the electrolyte.

How it works: As the lithium-ion battery charges and discharges, lithium ions – atoms with a positive charge-rather than electrons, move back and forth between the anode and cathode. Lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging. 

Safety, Performance & Durability, Reliability and Cost Effectiveness

Advantages:

  • Low discharge rate in idle state
  • High energy density
  • Lightweight for the amount of energy they store
  • Small in size
  • Low cost
  • Popular for phones, laptop computers, etc.

Disadvantages:

  • Safety risks (especially when damaged)
  • If a battery cell is charged too quickly, it can cause a short circuit, leading to explosions and fires
  • LiCoO2 is hazardous in nature - contains a flammable electrolyte and heats up faster  
  • Low thermal stability (thermal runaway)
  • Limited load capabilities
  • Less cycle life
 
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