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Part 2: What are the advantages of lithium-ion batteries and ...

May. 13, 2024

Part 2: What are the advantages of lithium-ion batteries and ...

The lithium-ion batteries changing our lives

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Part 2: What are the advantages of lithium-ion batteries and what considerations apply when charging them? Find out why they have various uses, from smartphones to cars.

Under the supervision of Ryoji Kanno, an Institute Professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology who has been involved in improving battery performance for more than 30 years, this series of articles explores lithium-ion batteries, from what they are to the status of research into the solid-state batteries called the next-generation lithium-ion batteries. Part 2 focuses on the benefits of lithium-ion batteries and the kinds of situations where they are used in our everyday lives. It also explains how to use them so they last longer.

Supervisor: Ryoji Kanno
Institute Professor (Professor Emeritus), Institute of Innovative Research, Tokyo Institute of Technology

In 1980, he completed his master’s degree in inorganic and physical chemistry at the Graduate School of Science, Osaka University. In 1985, he became a Doctor of Science. After working as an associate professor in the Faculty of Science at Kobe University, he became a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Engineering in 2001. In 2016, he became a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology School of Materials and Chemical Technology. In 2018, he became a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology Institute of Innovative Research and a leader in the All-Solid-State Battery Unit. In 2021, he became an Institute Professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology Institute of Innovative Research and director of the Research Center for All-Solid-State Battery.

1. What are the benefits of using lithium-ion batteries?

Lithium-ion batteries have many advantages in terms of safety and functionality compared to other batteries such as lead-acid batteries. The key benefits include:

Benefits of lithium-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are smaller and more powerful than other batteries.

Secondary batteries that can be recharged and used repeatedly like lithium-ion batteries include nickel-metal hydride batteries and nickel-cadmium batteries in addition to lead-acid batteries. The most obvious advantage of lithium-ion batteries compared to these batteries is that they are small and light, and yet powerful.

Comparing the characteristics of these batteries at the same size, the maximum voltages they can produce are 2.1V for lead-acid batteries, 1.2V for nickel-metal hydride batteries, and 1.25V for nickel-cadmium batteries. Lithium-ion batteries, on the other hand, can produce voltages as high as 3.2 to 3.7V.

Lithium-ion batteries stand up well to repeated charging and discharging.

Lithium-ion batteries do not utilize chemical reactions like other secondary batteries when making electricity. Therefore, compared to other secondary batteries, their electrodes deteriorate less, allowing them to stand up very well to repeated charging and discharging.

Lithium-ion batteries can be fast-charging.

A major feature of lithium-ion batteries is that they can be charged quickly. But fast charging, or charging done in a short time, is something that secondary batteries other than lithium-ion batteries can also do. However, with nickel-metal hydride batteries and nickel-cadmium batteries, it was difficult to determine when charging was finished, so fast charging was not put to practical use. Fast charging of lithium-ion batteries has been implemented because the charger can determine when charging is finished.

Lithium-ion batteries support wireless charging.

Wireless charging, or charging without a charging cable, is also possible with secondary batteries other than lithium-ion batteries, just like fast charging. However, since wireless charging technology was established in 2007, making it a relatively new technology, it was adopted for lithium-ion batteries, which were already expected to become widespread. Research is being conducted into a system that will make it possible in the future to charge electric vehicles simply by parking them in a parking lot.

Lithium-ion batteries are resistant to natural discharge (self-discharge).

Batteries display a phenomenon called “self-discharge,” the natural discharge of a battery even when it is not in use. For example, if you want to start the engine of a car that has not been driven for more than a month, you may not be able to turn the starter over because of low voltage. This so-called “dead battery” condition is caused by self-discharge.

Self-discharge occurs when a chemical reaction progresses little by little even when a battery is just left in inactive storage. This is why lithium-ion batteries, which use a slightly different reaction from the battery reaction that occurs in other secondary batteries, hardly self-discharge at all.

By the way, in the case of smartphones and PCs equipped with lithium-ion batteries, the battery may run down even when the device is not used. In this case, it is because the device is not completely turned off and is consuming a small amount of electricity even though the screen is off, so that it can start up immediately.

2. What are the applications for lithium-ion batteries used in our everyday lives?

Uses of lithium-ion batteries in daily life

There are many tools around us that run on electricity. Taking advantage of the benefit that they are small and powerful, lithium-ion batteries are incorporated into a variety of devices. In particular, products such as smartphones, PCs, and digital cameras became smaller, lighter, and longer lasting after they started using lithium-ion batteries.

Electric vehicles were initially equipped with nickel-metal hydride batteries. However, they now use lithium-ion batteries because of their benefits in being powerful and having low self-discharge and because they do not suffer from the non-user-friendly inability to allow top-up charging like nickel-metal hydride batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries are also used for small home appliances such as cordless vacuum cleaners and irons, vehicles such as electric bicycles and electric motorcycles, and applications such as storing electricity generated during the day using a solar power generation system at home.

3. What are the applications for lithium-ion batteries used in industrial fields?

Uses of lithium-ion batteries in industrial fields

In industrial fields, lithium-ion batteries are used to cordlessly operate machines such as robots and drones. There are also a wide range of other industrial fields where lithium-ion batteries are utilized, such as for IoT sensors installed in various locations and special vehicles such as submarines and rockets.

On the other hand, lithium-ion batteries, too,  have limited energy density, which limits their use when more power is required. For example, today’s lithium-ion batteries can be used as the energy source to drive the motors in electric vehicles, but it is still technologically too difficult to fly large airplanes on the energy of lithium-ion batteries. However, people are developing new vehicles such as “flying cars” that use lithium-ion batteries. There are still many possibilities left even if we just investigate thoroughly the performance potential of current lithium-ion batteries.

4. What are the tips and precautions for charging products that use lithium-ion batteries?

Just as lithium-ion batteries have different characteristics from other batteries, they will last longer if you use them with an understanding of their characteristics. Understand the points and features of charging to maintain performance.

Top-up charging is okay with lithium-ion batteries.

One of the features of lithium-ion batteries is their user friendliness. For example, with nickel-metal hydride batteries and nickel-cadmium batteries, if you try to add charge while capacity remains, the battery may not appear to be charged more than that remaining capacity. This is called the “memory effect,” and it basically does not happen with lithium-ion batteries.

To prevent the memory effect in nickel-metal hydride batteries and nickel-cadmium batteries, it is recommended to charge them after using up all the electricity. Lithium-ion batteries, in contrast, can be said to be more user-friendly because you can top up their charge before running them down completely.

How to make lithium-ion batteries last longer

Devices that use lithium-ion batteries, such as smartphones and laptops, use circuits that do not allow charging beyond the battery’s capacity even if the battery is used while always charged. So, there is no worry that the battery will be overburdened, but if you want a lithium-ion battery to last longer, it is best to continue using it while charged up to about 50% and connected to a power supply. Some laptops can be set to not charge more than 50%.

Overcharging and over-discharging should be avoided in lithium-ion batteries.

Conversely, the thing to avoid with lithium-ion batteries is using a device while maintaining a 100% charged state. If you continue to use a fully charged laptop while it is connected to a power supply, it will shorten the battery life.

On the other hand, leaving a device in inactive storage in an over-discharged state where almost all the electricity is used up can also shorten the life of lithium-ion batteries. In other words, avoid use in the extreme states of being overcharged and over-discharged. This is similar to the way exercising in a state of fullness or hunger puts an undue burden on the body.

Remember to try to use lithium-ion batteries at room temperature.

To get stable performance out of lithium-ion batteries, it is best to use them at room temperature. You may have heard the rumor that they will last longer when cooled, but this is counterproductive because the battery’s resistance value increases at low temperatures, increasing the load for charging and discharging. Moreover, cooling may cause condensation on the battery, and the circuits around the battery may short-circuit.

Lithium-ion batteries have various advantages, but it must be said that it is important to use them in ways that make the most of those advantages in order to get good performance for a long time.

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5 Benefits of Lithium-Ion Technology in the Cleaning Industry

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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

We know batteries are a key resource for providing portable power. They are particularly useful when the use of power cables is inconvenient or when trying to avoid noise and gas emissions, making them a valuable alternative to small gasoline engines.

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However, it’s important to highlight that batteries are far from new, and technology is experiencing a speedy evolution. Not long ago, lead-acid batteries were the only option until nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) and nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) batteries came along. Over time, these options have given way to more advanced lithium-ion batteries.

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Lithium-ion batteries offer many advantages in the cleaning industry compared to other battery types. Their ability to store and release energy efficiently makes them the most popular choice in a wide range of applications.

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Lithium-ion batteries have already shown their worth in various applications from automobiles to cell phones and have massive potential as a power source for floor cleaning machines. They provide immediate and significant gains, such as:

  • Higher runtime and productivity
  • Lower operating costs
  • Reduction in cost-of-ownership over time

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If you’re considering the purchase of a battery-powered floor cleaning machine, it’s worth taking a closer look at why lithium-ion batteries stand out as the optimal choice.

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Advantages of Lithium-Ion Batteries in Cleaning Equipment

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Lithium-ion technology’s unique quality is the capacity to store more energy in a smaller volume than other types of batteries like lead-acid, nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) and nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH). They offer numerous advantages:

  1. Size and weight
  2. Longevity
  3. Maintenance
  4. Charging time
  5. Safety

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1. Size and Weight

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Higher energy density means lithium-ion batteries can be much smaller for the same power and run-time as other types of batteries. Alternatively, they can hold more charge to keep running longer. That means lighter and more maneuverable equipment, and more working hours, less time spent recharging, or both.

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To quantify the difference, lithium-ion batteries typically store 260-270 watt-hours (wh) per kilogram of battery mass. You should note though, thanks to electric vehicle R&D, that number keeps increasing and some batteries now store over 300 wh/kg. In comparison, lead-acid batteries store 50-100 wh/kg, Ni-Cd batteries are in the 45 – 80 wh/kg range and Ni-MH batteries are 60-120 wh/kg.*

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2. Longevity

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As they go through repeated charging and discharging cycles, all batteries lose the ability to store energy. However, this happens more slowly with lithium-ion than other technologies. Li-ion batteries have an average life cycles 4 times higher than the standard batteries (li-ion batteries in the IPC scrubber dryers have 2000 charging cycles). What’s more, lithium-ion doesn’t suffer the memory effects seen in nickel-based batteries.

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To be more specific, a lithium-ion battery will still have at least 80% of its storage capacity remaining after it has been through 200 charge-discharge cycles. That is much better than the competition and means the battery won’t need replacing as often.

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3. Maintenance

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There are no maintenance costs given the li-ion batteries long life. In turn, there is no need for a battery replacement during the machine’s life. The machines equipped with li-ion batteries are less weight than the others and easier to transport.

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4. Charging time

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The chemistry of a lithium-ion battery supports faster charging than other technologies. For cleaning equipment, this means higher productivity, allowing more cleaning time and less machine downtime. The benefits are clear — not just for sustainability and facility health, but also the bottom line:

  • Less energy for charging. Li-ion batteries don’t require over-charging to mix the electrolyte. That means they use significantly less energy to charge.
  • Fast recharge. Li-ion batteries charge up to 30% faster than lead acid batteries. Li-ion batteries are a type of rechargeable battery that allows a faster recharge than the traditional ones (2 hours vs 7/8 hours of the traditional batteries).
  • Longer runtime between charges. Li-ion batteries can deliver up to a 40% improvement in machine runtime between charges.
  • Opportunity charging. Batteries don’t need to be on empty to take a charge. With opportunity charging, you can charge the battery whenever it’s convenient – so your floor scrubber can be fully charged when needed.

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5. Safety

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Li-ion batteries eliminate the risk of operators coming into contact with battery acid (and the burns and inhalation injuries that can result). Li-ion-powered fleet is emissions-free, which mean there’s no risk of harmful gases that can be the by-product of charging lead acid batteries.

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Portable Energy for Professional Cleaning Equipment

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Lithium-ion batteries help keep mobile cleaning equipment compact and lightweight. They boost productivity too, by enabling longer periods between recharging. If you’re looking for or evaluating battery-powered cleaning equipment, make sure lithium-ion batteries are an option. IPC offers an extensive range, so check our website or contact us to discuss your needs.

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*Source: https://www.schumacherelectric.com/blog/the-benefits-of-lithium-ion-batteries/

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For more information, please visit lithium battery manufacturer.

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