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1. How many types of lithium ion batteries?

Lithium ion batteries occupy almost every household. Nearly every one of us carries them in their cellphone. Their high energy density makes them portable and their rechargeability makes them long lasting.  Lithium ion batteries have made it possible to have aircrafts with only electric propulsion (e.g. Solar Impulse aircraft). There is still a long way to go before they replace the low-cost lead acid batteries but research is underway across the globe.

The 5 types of Lithium ion batteries along with their properties are given below.

Lithium-Cobalt Oxide Battery

Used mostly in handheld electronics (Cell phones, Laptops and Cameras)
Risky especially when damaged
Cobalt is scarce and expensive
Low discharge rates
Highest energy density (110-190) Wh/kg

Lithium-Titanate Battery

Can operate at very low temp (-40°C)
Rapid charge and discharge
Used in Mitsubishi i-MiEV
Lower inherent voltage 2.4 V (compared to 3.7 V)
Lower energy density (30-110) Wh/kg

Lithium-Iron Phosphate Battery

Dramatically reduces the risks of overheating and fire.
Offers much less volumetric capacity
Used in power tools and medical equipment
Longer-life and inherently safe
Lower Energy Density (95-140) Wh/kg

Lithium-Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide Battery

Longer life and inherent safety
Cobalt is scarce and expensive
Less prone to heating
Used in Power tools, e-bikes and electric power trains
Lower energy density (95-130) Wh/kg

Contrary to the popular belief, there are many different types of lithium ion batteries. Five of them, that have been listed above are commercially established. There are many other Lithium chemistries (e.g Li-S) undergoing research.   It should be noted that each battery has different energy density, power density, reliability and safety. The different battery chemistries allow scientists to create batteries as per user’s requirement. Power density and energy density are inversely related and come at the cost of each other i.e. increase in power density results in a decrease in energy density and vice versa.

There are also other lithium battery chemistries that do not fall in the category of Lithium Ion. These include Lithium Sulphur, Lithium Air and Lithium Silicone. These technologies are still emerging but hold tremendous potential. For example Lithium Silicone battery developed in the lab has a energy density of 650 Wh/litre, which is twice as much as the currently available batteries.

Batteries can also be reconditioned. It has been predicted that with Tesla’s Giga Factory going online, the production of Li-ion will ramp up. This could cause Lithium reserves to get scarce. As a result, reconditioning of batteries will become a lucrative business.

2. Make up of different lithium-ion batteries

3. How many shapes of Lithium-ion batteries?

Li-ion cells (as distinct from entire batteries) are available in various shapes, which can generally be divided into four groups.

· Small cylindrical (solid body without terminals, such as those used in laptop batteries)

· Large cylindrical (solid body with large threaded terminals)

· Pouch (soft, flat body, such as those used in cell phones; also referred to as li-ion polymer or lithium polymer batteries)

· Prismatic (semi-hard plastic case with large threaded terminals, such as vehicles' traction packs)

Cells with a cylindrical shape are made in a characteristic "swiss roll" manner (known as a "jelly roll" in the US), which means it is a single long sandwich of positive electrode, separator, negative electrode and separator rolled into a single spool. The main disadvantage of this method of construction is that the cell will have a higher series inductance.

The absence of a case gives pouch cells the highest gravimetric energy density; however, for many practical applications they still require an external means of containment to prevent expansion when their state-of-charge (SOC) level is high, and for general structural stability of the battery pack of which they are part.

Since 2011, several research groups have announced demonstrations of lithium-ion flow batteries that suspend the cathode or anode material in an aqueous or organic solution.

4. What is energy storage?

Energy storage is the capture of energy produced at one time for use at a later time. Energy storage solutions are technologies that discharge potential energies—stored through chemical, mechanical, or thermal systems—to provide power to a company’s facilities. Energy storage as a technology can be broadly categorized in four ways: conventional and advanced batteries, mechanical storage, thermal storage, and software for discharge operation.

5. What’s the Energy storage technology trends?

lithium-ion battery energy storage is the future of commercial-class energy storage mainstream technology.

Utilities are quickly realizing the benefits of energy storage in terms of enhanced business and process efficiencies. These allow them to augment services to customers while benefiting their bottom line regarding operations costs. In fact, nearly 77 percent of utility executives are investing or planning to invest in energy storage solutions in the next 10 years.

Intelligent energy storage integrates Internet of Things (IoT) technology with energy storage technology to increase its effectiveness and efficiency. One of the benefits it offers is increasing the feasibility and utility of integrating renewable energy with energy storage. This leads to numerous energy saving benefits that can be especially attractive to businesses as they pursue renewable energy goals.

6. The future of energy storage

Navigant reports that in 2014 and 2015, 520 MW of new energy storage capacity was deployed globally. More than 80% of these storage deployments were made in the utility sector, while some 9,000 MW of new utility-owned storage capacity is to be deployed by 2020. This means that non-hydropower storage will equal approximately 2,276 MW by the end of 2017. Overall, the global market is expected to grow 47% this year over 2016’s record-breaking performance.

The true potential for energy storage is in the heretofore untapped C&I market. More than ever before, companies are actively seeking ways to gain control over their energy spend by utilizing cleantech and other innovative solutions. As the price for batteries and other storage solutions drops, corporate buyers will be well poised to maximize energy investments while contributing to the clean energy transition. Additionally, with microgrid opportunities on the rise, energy storage in conjunction with other new energy opportunities very well may become commonplace for companies in the not-so-distant future.

7. What's difference between LFP and NCM?

Li-phosphate has a higher self-discharge than other Li-ion batteries, which can cause balancing issues with aging.

Li-phosphate is often used to replace the lead acid starter battery.

  • l Four cells in series produce 12.80V, a similar voltage to six 2V lead acid cells in series.
  • l Vehicles charge lead acid to 14.40V (2.40V/cell) and maintain a topping charge.
  • l With four Li-phosphate cells in series, each cell tops at 3.60V, which is the correct full-charge voltage.
  • l At this point, the charge should be disconnected but the topping charge continues while driving.
  • l Li-phosphate is tolerant to some overcharge; however, keeping the voltage at 14.40V for a prolonged time, as most vehicles do on a long drive, could stress Li-phosphate.
  • l Cold temperature operation starting could also be an issue with Li-phosphate as a starter battery. 

Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC)

One of the most successful Li-ion systems is a cathode combination of nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC). NMC in the same cell optimized for specific power has a capacity of only about 2,000mWh but delivers a continuous discharge current of 20A.

Like other varieties of lithium-ion batteries, NMC batteries can have either a high specific energy or high specific power. They cannot, however, have both properties. This battery is most common in power tools and in powertrains for vehicles.

The cathode combination ratio is usually one-third nickel, one-third manganese and one-third cobalt, meaning that the raw material cost is lower than for other options, as cobalt on its own can be quite expensive. According to Battery university, this battery is also commonly preferred for electric vehicles due to its very low self-heating rate.