Batteries Provide Portable Power. Rechargeable Batteries Store Immense Energy And Can Be Refilled Thousands Of Times

A battery cell contains chemistry able to store electrons. Regular batteries use chemistries that cannot be recharged. Rechargeable batteries can be re-charged thousands of times.

Chemistry Types

Batteries behave differently based on the chemistry they use internally:

  • Lead-Acid: these are the typical classic car batteries: they are heavy (lead), use acid, discharge when not used and need service.
  • NiCad: Nickel/Cadmium was used in early rechargeable batteries. Their ingredients are toxic, and the particular chemistry is sensitive towards the memory effect: batteries have to always be completely discharged before they need to be fully charged. Else, their total capacity may suffer.
  • Lithium Coin: these ubiquous small 3V batteries are used in numerous small devices. They cannot be recharged. Common types are CR2025, CR2032, etc. Their chemistry is LiMnO2.
  • Lithium Primary: these 3V batteries (i.e. CR123A) can use LiMnO2 or LiFeS2 chemistry and are also not rechargeable.
  • LiIon: Lithium-Ion batteries were the first modern types of rechargeable batteries: they have no memory effect. They use cobalt or manganese cathodes which provide a very high energy density. Because of their high energy density, they can catch fire or explode when physically damaged, short circuited or over-charged which is why they should always be used with a proper BMS (battery management system). They can also be damaged when they are completely discharged.
  • LiPo: Lithum-Polymer behaves very similar to LiIon and use similar chemistry. Their energy density is even higher and they are malleable: they comes in pouches and many other form factors. They often can have higher discharge rates as well although this depends on particular type. This comes at a cost: LiPo has lower charging cycles than LiIon and a shorter lifespan. LiPo is also more prone to swelling, overheating and catching fire when not handled properly. In general, LiPo batteries tend to be more expensive than LiIon when otherwise sharing the same technical specs. Because of their technical similarity, LiIon and LiPo can share the same chargers and BMS.
  • LiFePo4/LFP: Lithium-Ferro-Phosphate has less energy density than LiIon and LiPo but is much safer: cells typically neither catch fire nor explode when mistreated. The chemistry uses iron instead of expensive and rare materials such as cobalt and manganese. LiFePo4 have the most charging cycles (life span is often >3000 cycles) without significant degradation. Their voltage stays exceptionally stable during discharge. Because of their lower energy density, they are bigger and heavier than LiIon and LiPo. LiFePo4 uses lower nominal voltages than LiIon and LiPo: they need specific chargers and BMS.


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(content created Mar 22, 2024)