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Types of Lithium-ion batteries
- Dec 14, 2018 -

Lithium-ion is named after its active materials. A series of letters and numbers strung together can be hard to remember and even harder to pronounce.

For example, lithium cobalt oxide, which is one of the most common Li-ions, has the chemical symbol LiCoO2. For reasons of simplicity, the short form Li-cobalt can also be used for this battery. This section lists six of the most common Li-ions. All readings are average estimates at time of writing.

Lithium Cobalt Oxide(LiCoO2)

High specific energy makes Li-cobalt an ideal choice for mobile phones, laptops and digital cameras. The battery consists of a cobalt oxide cathode and a graphite carbon anode. The cathode has a layered structure and during discharge, lithium ions move from the anode to the cathode. The drawback of Li-cobalt is a relatively short life span, low thermal stability and limited load capabilities (specific power). 

Lithium Manganese Oxide (LiMn2O4)

The architecture forms a three-dimensional spinel structure that improves ion flow on the electrode, which results in lower internal resistance and improved current handling. A further advantage of spinel is high thermal stability and enhanced safety, but the cycle and calendar life are limited.

Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (LiNiMnCoO2 or NMC)

One of the most successful Li-ion systems is a cathode combination of nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC). For example, NMC in an 18650 cell for moderate load condition has a capacity of about 2,800mAh and can deliver 4A to 5A; NMC in the same cell optimized for specific power has a capacity of only about 2,000mAh but delivers a continuous discharge current of 20A. A silicon-based anode will go to 4,000mAh and higher but at reduced loading capability and shorter cycle life. Silicon added to graphite has the drawback that the anode grows and shrinks with charge and discharge, making the cell mechanically unstable.