Lithium “the white gold”
Lithium was discovered in 1817 in Sweden by Johan Arfwedson. The name is derived from the ancient Greek lithos that means ‘stone’. In its pure form it is a soft shiny gray material that oxidizes quickly in the air.
Lithium was produced on a large scale for the first time in 1923. Nowadays, more than 70 percent of the worldwide supply of lithium comes in the “lithium triangle”: the salt plains in southern Bolivia, north of Chile and north-west of Argentina. In Bolivia lies the largest salt flat in the world, Salar de Uyuni.
Lithium is the lightest of all metal types with the highest energy density. The nominal voltage of a single cell can vary from 3.6 to 3.8 Volts depending on the anode used. The Li-ion battery can store significantly more energy per kilogram battery than a NiMH battery (140Wh / kg energy density).
Alessandro Volta was the inventor of the battery. A battery is a type of device that consists one or more electrochemical cells that convert stored chemical energy into electrical energy. Each cell contains a positive terminal or cathode and a negative terminal or anode. Electrolytes allow ions to move between the electrodes and terminals, allowing current to flow out of the battery to perform work.
After Exxon chemist Stanley Whittingham developed the concept of lithium-ion batteries in the 1970s, Sony and Asahi Kasei created the first commercial product in 1991. The first batteries were used for consumer electronics. Now, building on the success of these li-ion batteries, many companies are developing larger-sized cells for use in energy storage applications that can even provide support services to the grid.
Advances in technology and materials have significantly increased the reliability, output and density of modern battery systems, and economies of scale have drastically reduced associated costs. Constant innovation has created new technologies such as electrochemical capacitors that can be charged and discharged simultaneously and immediately.
A disadvantage of the Li-ion battery is that it can break with deep discharge. That is why a Li-ion battery or battery pack always requires a BMS (Battery Management system). This system controls the voltage, to prevent deep discharge, overcharging and excessive power consumption. If a Li-ion battery is not used, it is best to keep it cool in a half-charged state.
Lithium-ion batteries are currently one of the most popular battery types.
– High energy density
– Compact shape
– No maintenance required
– Low self-discharge
– No memory effect
– Long functional life