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Battery Explainer

Lithium batteries stand apart from other battery technology in their high charge density (long life) Below are some differences between the Lithium Ion (LiCoO2) and the new technology on the block, Lithium Iron (LiFePO4) 

A lithium-ion battery is a rechargeable battery with lithium cobalt dioxide (LiCoO2) or lithium manganese oxide (LiMn2O4) as a cathode.

For the more technically minded, lithium ion batteries are secondary cells constructed from layers of lithium sandwiched with an electrolyte. They can be stacked into rectangular packs and can also be wrapped into a cylindrical shape.

The distinction between lithium, lithium ion and the other varieties of lithium packs is the kind of electrolyte used. Their primary advantages are the energy density and faster charge/discharge times compared to the nickel based batteries historically used.

Lithium-Cobalt-Oxide (LiCoO2 ) characteristics:

  • High energy density.

  • Used commonly in phones, PC’s, laptops etc.

  • Risk of thermal runaway in larger systems.

Lithium Ferro (Iron) Phosphate Battery (LiFePO4)

A lithium-iron battery is also a rechargeable type of battery but made with lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) as the cathode material.

While lithium-iron is a newer version in the lithium battery family, its anodes are also made up of carbon in batteries.

Phosphate based technology possesses superior thermal and chemical stability which provides better safety characteristics than those of Lithium-ion technology made with other cathode materials. Lithium phosphate cells are more stable under overcharge or short circuit conditions and they can withstand high temperatures without decomposing. When abuse does occur, the phosphate based cathode material will not burn and is not prone to thermal runaway. Phosphate chemistry also offers a longer cycle life.

Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) characteristics:

  •         Most stable

  •         Good density

  •         Long life

  •         Economical

The lithium-iron (LiFePo4) battery has a slight edge over the Li-ion (LiCoO2) battery for safety. This is important because a battery should not get overheated or catch fire in case of overcharging. Lion Power Australia’s (LiFePo4) Batteries also employ a Battery Management System (BMS) to protect from Over Charge or Over Discharging along with other important safety functions making it even safer.

The lithium-iron battery has superior chemical and thermal stability. A Lithium-iron battery remains cool at room temperature while the Li-ion battery may suffer thermal runaway and heats up faster under similar charging conditions.

LiFePO4 is a nontoxic material, but LiCoO2 is hazardous in nature, so is not considered a safe material.

Cost Effective, Reliability & Durability

Battery life is best defined by the number of charge & discharge cycles a battery can provide. Some testing has shown that lithium iron phosphate batteries can last about 2,000 – 3000 charge/discharge cycles, compared to perhaps 1,000 - 1,250 for lithium ion batteries. These tests go to the point where the batteries hold noticeably less charge, rather than testing to a point of failure. Long life, slow discharge rate and less weight should be basic features of a daily use battery. This is when a lithium iron phosphate battery is appreciated as it is expected to have a longer “shelf life” than a Li-ion. When not in use, a battery should not lose its charge at a faster rate. It should deliver almost same performance if using after long storage time of 3 months. A lithium power source can offer significant advantages if:

A high voltage is needed.

A recharging circuit is not available or too costly.

The power source has to be as light weight as possible (With in Safe Manual Handling limits)

Long shelf life.

A wide temperature range is required.

Reliability is crucial.

Extremely high energy density is needed.

Environmental concerns such as temperature, vibration or shock are severe.

Your application demands a continuous source of power for extensive periods of time.

Lithium Ion vs Lithium Ferro (Iron) Phosphate Batteries