How do lithium ion batteries work explanation and related knowledge

How do lithium ion batteries work-explanation and related knowledge

Table of Contents

People tend to use Lithium-ion batteries in recent years. The advanced features of lithium-ion batteries are getting famous. They also find lithium ion battery is a more eco-friendly and cost-effective choice. So the most frequently asked question in markets and the internet is how do lithium ion batteries work? In this article, the explanation of how do lithium ion batteries work and the related knowledge will be shown in detail.

What is the chemical reaction in a lithium-ion battery

There are three main parts of the battery that are involved in the production of energy. The cathode (Iron phosphate / nickel cobalt manganese), an anode (graphite), and an electrolyte (Lithium hexafluorophosphate).These three components take part in a chemical reaction that results in energy or the flow of electrons, which is important to understand how do lithium ion batteries work.


When Charging a lithium-ion battery, lithium ions flow from the cathode to the anode, and the electrons will follow the external circuit to the positive electrode.Reduction occurs on the cathode end, which means the removal of the electron in the form of energy.


Oxidation takes place on the anode end. That means the anode gets free electron. Both half reactions make a complete chemical reaction in a battery cell.


Lithium-ion batteries are recharged on the same pattern which was being followed during charging.

Conclusion of how do lithium ion batteries work

Knowing how do lithium ion batteries work is helpful to understand what is a lithium ion battery. In short, lithium-ion battery works on the principle of redox reaction. That means reduction (removal of an electron) takes place on the cathode while oxidation takes place on the anode (gain of an electron) when charging and vice versa during discharge.

The reaction occurs through an electrolyte which helps transfer the electrons. In lithium-ion batteries, electrons continue to flow to create frequent charge in batteries until one cycle is completed.

Where does lithium ion come from-will we run out of lithium

Widely used lithium metal is extracted from China, Australia, and Chile. These countries mine and refine 87% of the world’s lithium. America gets most of the lithium from Argentina and Chile. The risk for lithium shortage is loaming up, as the demand for lithium is increasing. We will face a lithium shortage in the future.

It is important to understand how do lithium ion batteries work

What factors affect the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries

There are mainly 5 factors affect the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries which is useful for us to make the question of how do lithium ion batteries work more clear.

● Current of charge:

When ions flow toward the cathode and anode, a layer deposits on both terminals. This layer gets thicker with time. Finally, this layer worsens the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries because the dead part of the battery stops responding to the charger.

Internal resistance:

The internal resistance can also hinder the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries. The greater the internal resistance the lower the efficiency of the lithium-ion battery and vice versa.Lithium-ion batteries have less resistance than other types of batteries.


Extreme temperatures can also affect the efficiency of the lithium-ion battery. A high temperature causes the loss of capacity of the battery and the internal temperature of the lithium ion battery to be unstable, which further increases the risk of internal short circuit and damage to any nearby components. Likewise, the low temperature can also reduce the capacity of the battery because it freezes many parts of the battery like an electrolyte.

The working temperature of conventional lithium-ion batteries is: – 20 ℃ ~ 60 ℃. However, when the temperature is lower than 0 ℃, the performance of lithium-ion batteries will decrease, and the discharge capacity will decrease accordingly. Therefore, the working temperature with complete performance of lithium-ion batteries is usually 0 ~ 40 ℃.

There are mainly 5 factors affect the efficiency of how do lithium ion batteries work

Age of battery:

Battery age does not mean the number of years spent. As a kind of rechargeable batteries, a lithium-ion battery lasts for up to 4000 cycles. Aging causes the battery material to be less active. As the electrolyte gets dry, cathode and anode also get crystals deposited on them. Lithium-ion battery’s capacity does not get restored again and again which results in a loss of efficiency.

Overcharging and overdischarging:

Overcharging and overdischarging also causes an aging process in lithium-ion batteries.

Does freezing lithium-ion battery work

The optimal operating temperature for the lithium battery is 20-25℃. The freezing environment stops the lithium batteries to work. When batteries are condensed, ions stop flowing or disperse in the electrolyte. Along with this, different parts of the battery get harmed and are separated from the surrounding material. That is a deadly factor for a working battery.

What temperature is bad for lithium-ion batteries

Different temperatures of storing places of lithium-ion batteries show different results in the performance of the battery. Although the relatively high temperature around 20 ℃ increases the performance of the battery, extreme temperature can seriously harm the battery and may result in an explosion.

Lithium-ion batteries are charged within the range of 0-45℃ and discharged from 0-60℃ ideally. An extending temperature is dangerous for the workplace. And the person who deals with battery storing must know the limits of temperature.

How do lithium ion batteries work differently from a regular battery

Lithium-ion batteries are famous batteries in the market due to their special features that meet the need of the time. To know how do lithium ion batteries work differently from a regular battery, it is necessary to make a comparison between lithium ion battery and lead acid battery,Nimh battery and Nicad battery.

How do lithium ion batteries work differently from a regular battery

Lithium-ion battery vs lead acid battery

Constructing material:

The lithium-ion battery is made of metal lithium while the lead acid battery is made of metal lead.


The lithium-ion battery is more efficient than a lead acid battery. A lithium-ion battery can use 100% (although it is not recommended to do this frequently)of its total energy stored while the lead acid battery can use only from 80% of its total stored energy.

● Capacity:

The lithium-ion battery can store more power than a lead acid battery at the same size because of its high energy density.

● Lifespan:

The life of the lithium-ion battery like lithium iron phosphate battery is 10 years if being charged and discharged once a day. While lead acid batteries last for 1-2 years.

Lithium-ion battery vs Nimh battery

Chemical composition:

Here is the chemical composition of Nickel-Metal Hydride (Nimh).The cathode is made of nickel hydroxide. The anode is made of several alloys of metal. And the electrolyte is made of potassium hydroxide.As for Lithium-ion, the cathode is made of Iron phosphate or nickel cobalt manganese,the anode is made of graphite and the electrolyte is made of Lithium hexafluorophosphate.


Lithium-ion battery generates 3.2-3.7v of power while Nimh produces 1.2v.


Li-ion batteries have a lifespan of 10 years on the other hand Nimh batteries have 5 years.

Maintenance requirement:

NIMH requires maintenance once in three months. While Li-ion does not need maintenance.

A li-ion battery works at 3.2-3.7 volts while a NiCad battery on 1.2 volts

Lithium-ion battery vs NiCad battery

Both batteries have some similarities. However, these are different on certain points.

Memory Effect:

Lithium-ion batteries do not have memory effect. Memory effect can reduce the capacity of batteries and Nickel-cadmium batteries have such kind of problem.


NiCad batteries can last up to 5 years while Lithium-ion batteries have a life of 10 years.

Charging Cycles:

On proper use, NiCad offers up to 1000 discharge and charging cycles. Lithium-ion batteries have 4000 charge and discharge cycles.


A li-ion battery works at 3.2-3.7 volts while a NiCad battery on 1.2 volts.


Lithium-ion batteries retain charge for a longer time than regular batteries. The distinctive features of lithium-ion batteries from other batteries are:
● Higher voltage
● Higher energy density
● Lower self-discharge rate(3.5% per month)
● No need for priming
● Available in different types
● Free maintenance
● Light weight
● Cost-effective
● High performance
● Longer Cycle life( 4000 times)
● More environmentally friendly


Do Lithium-ion batteries have memory

Lithium-ion batteries have no charge memory like other batteries. It does not require a full discharge before charging.

Are there any risks with using a lithium-ion battery

Mostly, lithium ion batteries are safe to operate. Although these batteries are sensitive to heat and fire and careless handling may cause them to explode, the chance of explosion is only 1 in a million. Keeping these batteries away from direct sunlight or the fireplace can help to operate them safely.

When you are charging lithium ion battery,  it is necessary to use a lithium ion battery charger. And It is important to find reliable and professional manufacturers to prevent buying inferior battery products.

Why does lithium work so well in batteries

How long do lithium-ion batteries last

The lifespan of a lithium-ion battery is expected around 10 years normally (about 4000 charging cycles). The proper use of lithium-ion batteries can enhance the life expectancy.

Can I replace a lead acid battery with lithium-ion

Yes, by adding an external lithium ion charger you can replace the lead acid battery with a Li-ion battery. And the parameters of the lithium-ion battery shall match the parameters of the equipment.

Why does lithium work so well in batteries

Three main points make lithium important in batteries.
High reactivity:
It produces much current as it loses its valence electron readily that flow easily through a battery.
Lighter metal:
Lithium is a lighter metal than other battery metals.
Highly Rechargeable:
The high reactivity of lithium makes it more rechargeable due to the easy flow of ions in the battery.
All three features make the lithium battery more efficient than others.

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