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Current Affairs

Li-ion batteries

Date: 16 October 2019 Tags: Energy

Issue

The 2019 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino for working towards the development of practical lithium-ion batteries.

 

Background

At the heart of electronic technology revolution lies a very important problem of longetivity of devices. Any portable device need powering source that can keep it working. Lithium-ion batteries made that possible.

 

Details

Theory

  • Chemical batteries consist of two electrodes between which electrons flow and generate a current.

  • The challenge of such batteries is to choose appropriate electrodes and electrolyte, which mediates the current, and generate sufficient current safely at room temperature without occupying too much space.

Lithium-ion batteries

  • When the battery is charging up, the lithium-cobalt oxide, positive electrode gives up some of its lithium ions, which move through the electrolyte to the negative, graphite electrode and remain there.

  • The battery takes in and stores energy during this process. When the battery is discharging, the lithium ions move back across the electrolyte to the positive electrode, producing the energy that powers the battery.

  • In both cases, electrons flow in the opposite direction to the ions around the outer circuit.

Benefits

  • Lithium ion batteries are more reliable than older technologies such as nickel-cadmium and don't suffer from a problem known as the "memory effect" (where batteries appear to become harder to charge unless they're discharged fully first).

  • Since lithium-ion batteries don't contain cadmium better for the environment.

  • Compared to heavy-duty rechargeable batteries such as lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries are relatively light for the amount of energy they store.

Drawbacks

Li-ion batteries will catch fire if they're overcharged or if an internal malfunction causes a short circuit.