Batteries are needed to power a wide range of devices, from automobiles to various electronics. However, there are different types of batteries on the market, with lead-acid and lithium-ion being the two most popularly used today.
But just how do these two batteries differ, and which is better for what applications over the other? Let’s take a look at this short guide on lithium and lead-acid batteries to find out.
About Lithium Batteries
Lithium batteries, also known as lithium-ion batteries and Li-ion batteries, utilize moving lithium ions to harness energy by generating possible variations between the battery’s opposite poles, which is called the voltage.
Meanwhile, as the lithium-ions move from one side to the next, the battery’s separator, which serves as the barrier between the negative and positive poles, ensures only that they filter through and not electrons.
As the lithium-ion battery charges, the lithium-ions are transported from the positive side of the battery through the separator and onto the negative side.
However, when the battery is providing an electrical current, also known as discharging, the ions move from the negative side of the battery to the positive side via the separator.
During this time, the electrons that were blocked by the separator during the charging stage are now permitted to pass through and onto the device to power it.
Lithium-ion batteries also vary in type, depending on the battery’s material makeup and the chemical reaction it utilizes to store energy.
Common Uses of Lithium-Ion Batteries
- Laptops, tablets, mobile phones, and cameras – typically utilize lithium cobalt oxide batteries because they perform better in low-load applications while delivering long-term power. However, they come at a higher cost and their share of safety concerns.
- Portable power tools, medical instruments, and some hybrid and electric vehicles – are often powered by lithium manganese oxide batteries for their good ion flow, current handling, and increased safety. Lithium nickel cobalt aluminum (NCA) batteries are also sometimes used to power electric vehicles based on their high amount of current for long periods.
- Ebikes, scooters, and other electric vehicles – usually contain lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide batteries due to their exceptional stability and low specific energy.
- Vehicle charging stations, solar street lights, aerospace and military equipment – utilize lithium titanite batteries in most cases due to their long lifespan, fast charge, and extreme safety.
- High cranking applications – lead-acid deep-cycle batteries are quickly being replaced by the lithium ion deep cycle battery for their electrochemical performance, good life cycle, thermal stability, and more.
About Lead-Acid Batteries
Lead-acid batteries are the original rechargeable batteries; hence, they are the easiest to produce due to their low technology, and they are also inexpensive.
Their plastic encasing contains a negative sponge lead plate, a lead dioxide-covered positive plate, and water and sulfuric acid-based electrolytes, which, together, provide the series of cells with the required voltage they need for maximum output.
It also includes a separator that acts as an insulating buffer between the negative and positive plates to prevent them from touching as the electrolytes and ions pass through it for conduction.
Common Uses of Lead-Acid Batteries
- Lead-acid batteries have a large current and surge capability, and they can also withstand some of the harshest conditions, so they work for many battery power applications.
- They are most commonly used in internal combustion automotive vehicles to power the ignition system, electronics, and more.
However, as stated earlier, lead-acid batteries are quickly being replaced by lithium-ion batteries because they offer the same capabilities but are fast charging and have a longer lifespan compared to lead-acid batteries’ short lifespan of about 300 to 500 cycles.
Lithium-ion batteries are also more environmentally friendly, so it helps lower your carbon footprint, unlike lead-acid batteries. They also don’t carry the risk of skin burns and metal degradation from corrosive electrolytes like lead-acid batteries.
So, overall, when choosing a battery for your application or a product based on its battery type, these are some important points to keep in mind to help you make the best choice for you. However, as lithium-ion batteries continue to evolve and expand their benefits over other battery types, it won’t be long before they are the battery of choice for all applications.