The Ubiquity of Lithium-Ion Batteries

Jason Lomberg, North American Editor, PSD



Jason Lomberg, North American Editor, PSD

­It’s beginning to look a lot like…normalcy. And for someone who gets cabin fever when I’m stuck inside for even a day, I couldn’t be happier.

New COVID-19 cases continue to drop, from a U.S. 7-day average of nearly 700K as of 1/24 to 85K as of 6/21. Obviously, tens of thousands of instances of something that still, theoretically, can turn deadly, isn’t good news, but we’re headed in the right direction.

And since the Coronavirus is drifting into the background, we’ve more or less returned to a normal trade show schedule. This means at least some of you got to galivant around Vegas for Lightfair, its first appearance in Sin City since 2014.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a tiny bit jealous….

This month begins a one-two punch of topics that are not only super relevant but lead nicely into September’s Battery Show in Novi, MI.

August covers one of the hottest applications of rechargeable batteries – electric vehicles – while this month deals with the batteries, themselves.

And I’d like to highlight one specific article, which could actually serve as the thesis for the July issue, “Why Lithium is Taking Over Stationary Energy Storage,” from Green Cubes Technology.

As Green Cube’s JD DiGiacomandrea points out, lithium-ion batteries have become omnipresent. Just about every portable device – including the one you could be reading this article on – rely on lithium-ion batteries. That encompasses smartphones, tablets, laptops, cordless power tools, digital cameras, and a lot more.

And it’s not hard to see why they’ve become so popular – their higher power density (watts per kilogram, or W/Kg) and energy density (watt hours per kilogram, or Wh/Kg) than lead acid batteries make them an ideal choice for every manner of consumer device plus industrial applications like UPS.

Indeed, “A lithium-ion battery may easily last the entire 15-year lifespan of your UPS. Also, lithium-ion batteries have a predictable degradation curve, which makes it easier to determine when they are approaching ‘end of life’ and will need to be replaced.”

While the average lead battery has a cycle life of 200 – you can discharge the battery to 50% capacity and recharge it to 100% capacity 200 times – lithium-ion batteries used in UPS applications have up to 2,000-4,000 cycles for the Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) chemistry.

This longer life is critical for UPS applications and the portable consumer widgets that’ll form the core of the forthcoming Internet of Things (including potentially the most important application of all, medical devices).

Even when approaching end-of-life, lithium-ion has the edge over lead batteries – “unlike lead acid batteries, aging lithium-ion batteries are not subject to "sudden death syndrome," notes DiGiacomandrea.

Best Regards,

Jason Lomberg

North American Editor, PSD