What Are The Different Types of Rechargeable Battery Chemistries/Technologies?
Batteries in portable consumer devices (laptops and notebooks, camcorders, cellular phones, etc.) are principally made using either Nickel Cadmium (NiCd), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) or Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) technologies. Each type of rechargeable battery technology has its own unique characteristics:
NiCd and NiMH: the main difference between the two is the fact that NiMH batteries (the newer of the two technologies) offer higher energy densities than NiCads. In other words, pound for pound, NiMH delivers approximately 100% more capacity than its NiCad counterpart. What this translates into is increased run-time from the battery with no additional bulk to weigh down your portable device. NiMH also offers another major advantage: NiCd batteries tend to suffer from what is called the memory effect. NiMH batteries are less prone to develop this dreaded affliction and thus require less maintenance and care. NiMH batteries are also more environmentally friendly than their NiCd counterparts since they do not contain heavy metals (which present serious landfill problems).
Li-Ion has quickly become the emerging standard for portable power in consumer devices. Li-Ion batteries produce the same energy as NiMH batteries but weigh approximately 35% less. This is crucial in applications such as camcorders or notebook computers, where the battery makes up a significant portion of the device's weight. Another reason Li-Ion batteries have become so popular is that they do not suffer from the memory effect AT ALL. They are also better for the environment because they don't contain toxic materials such as Cadmium or Mercury.
Is it Possible to Upgrade My Device's Battery to a Newer Chemistry?
NiCd, NiMH, and Li-ion are all fundamentally different from one another and cannot be substituted unless the device has been pre-configured from the factory to accept more than one type of rechargeable battery. The difference between them stems from the fact that each type requires a different charging pattern to be properly recharged. Therefore, the portable device's charger must be properly configured to handle a given type of rechargeable battery.
Refer to your owner's manual to find out which rechargeable battery types your particular device supports, or simply use our search engine to find your device. It will automatically list all of the battery types supported by your machine.
What is the Memory Effect?
NiCd batteries, and to a lesser extent NiMH batteries, suffer from what's called the memory effect. What this means is that if a battery is continually only partially discharged before re-charging, the battery forgets that it has the capacity to further discharge all the way down. To illustrate: If you, on a regular basis, fully charge your battery and then use only 50% of its capacity before the next recharge, eventually the battery will become unaware of its extra 50% capacity which has remained unused. Your battery will remain functional, but only at 50% of its original capacity. The way to avoid the dreaded memory effect is to fully cycle (fully charge and then fully discharge) your battery at least once every two to three weeks. Batteries can be discharged by unplugging the device's AC adapter and letting the device run on the battery until it ceases to function. This will ensure your battery remains healthy.
Aluminium–air batteries (Al–air)
Aluminium–air batteries produce electricity from the reaction of oxygen in the air with aluminum. They have one of the highest energy densities of all batteries, but they are not widely used because of problems with high anode cost and byproduct removal when using traditional electrolytes. This has restricted their use to mainly military applications. However, an electric vehicle with aluminum batteries has the potential for up to eight times the range of a lithium-ion battery with a significantly lower total weight.
Aluminium-ion batteries are a class of rechargeable battery in which aluminum ions provide energy by flowing from the negative electrode of the battery, the cathode, to the positive electrode, the anode. When recharging, aluminum ions return to the anode, and it can exchange three redox electrons per cation. Rechargeable aluminum-based batteries offer the possibilities of low cost and low flammability, together with three-electron-redox properties leading to high capacity. The inertness of aluminum and the ease of handling in an ambient environment is expected to offer significant safety improvements for this kind of battery.
Super iron battery: A new class of rechargeable electric battery. "Super-iron" is a moniker for a special kind of ferrate salt (iron(VI)): potassium ferrate or barium ferrate, as used in this new class of batteries. As of 2004, chemist Stuart Licht of the University of Massachusetts in Boston was leading research into a Super-iron battery.
Wet Lead Acid
Wet lead acid battery: The major advantage of the wet cell lead acid battery is its low cost - a large battery (e.g. 70 Ah) is relatively cheap when compared to other chemistries. However, this battery chemistry has lower energy density than other battery chemistries available today. Its most common application is a starter battery for vehicles, but they can also be used in alarm systems, uninterruptible power supplies and for energy storage for buildings not connected to the electrical grid. The lead-acid battery chemistry was invented in 1859.
Gel battery: A type of VRLA battery that uses gelified electrolyte. Unlike a traditional wet cell lead-acid battery, the cells of a gel battery are valve-regulated. Its applications include automobiles, motorcycle, boats, aircraft, and other motorized vehicles.
Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM)
Absorbed glass mat: A type of VRLA battery. The plates in an AGM battery may be flat like wet cell lead-acid batteries, or they may be wound in tight spirals. In cylindrical AGM's, the plates are thin and wound, like most consumer disposable and rechargeable cells, into spirals so they are also sometimes referred to as spiral wound. It's chemical composition are electrolytes absorbed into a fiberglass mat.
The lithium-air battery (Li-air) is a metal-air electrochemical cell or battery chemistry that uses oxidation of lithium at the anode and reduction of oxygen at the cathode to induce a current flow.
Lithium Cobalt Oxide (ICR)
Lithium cobalt oxide, sometimes called lithium cobaltate or lithium cobaltite, is a chemical compound with formula LiCoO2. The cobalt atoms are formally in the +3 oxidation state, hence the IUPAC name lithium cobalt(III) oxide. Lithium cobalt oxide is a dark blue or bluish-gray crystalline solid and is commonly used in the positive electrodes of lithium-ion batteries.
Lithium Ion (Li-Ion)
Lithium ion battery: A relatively modern battery chemistry that offers a very high charge density (i.e. a light battery will store a lot of energy) and which does not suffer from any memory effect whatsoever. Its chemical composition is LiCoO2, LiMn2O4, LiNiO2 or Li-Ph for the cathode and carbon for the anode. Applications include laptop computers, camera phones, some rechargeable MP3 players, and most other portable, rechargeable digital equipment. Tesla, Reva and Kewet are all releasing new lithium-ion battery electric car models in 2007. Lithium-ion batteries were introduced around 1990. The problems with Lithium batteries include volatility, thermal runaway, high cost and limited shelf and cycle life.
Lithium Ion Manganese Oxide (IMR)
A Lithium-ion manganese oxide battery is a lithium-ion cell that uses manganese dioxide, MnO2, as the primary cathode material. They function through the same intercalation/de-intercalation mechanism as other commercialized secondary battery technologies, such as LiCoO2. They are a promising technology as their manganese-oxide components are earth-abundant, inexpensive, non-toxic, and provide better thermal stability.
Lithium Ion Polymer (Li-Po)
Lithium ion polymer battery: Similar characteristics to lithium-ion, but with slightly less charge density and a greater life cycle degradation rate. An advantage over regular lithium-ion is ultra-slim design, as little as 1 mm thick. Disadvantages would be if the battery discharges below a certain voltage it may never be able to hold a charge again, also if overcharged the battery becomes extremely unstable and may explode. Applications include ultra-slim cells for personal digital assistants (PDA). They were released in 1996.
Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4 or LFP)
The lithium iron phosphate battery, also called LFP battery (with "LFP" standing for "lithium ferrophosphate"), is a type of rechargeable battery, specifically a lithium-ion battery, which uses LiFePO4 as a cathode material, and a graphitic carbon electrode with a metallic current collector grid as the anode. The specific capacity of LiFePO4 is higher than that of the related lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2) chemistry, but its energy density is slightly lower due to its low operating voltage. The main problem of LiFePO4 is its low electrical conductivity. Therefore, all the LiFePO4 cathodes under consideration are actually LiFePO4/C. Because of low-cost, low-toxicity, well-defined performance, long-term stability, etc. LiFePO4 is finding a number of roles in-vehicle use, utility-scale stationary applications, and backup power.
The lithium-sulfur battery (Li–S battery) is a type of rechargeable battery, notable for its high specific energy. The low atomic weight of lithium and moderate weight of sulfur means that Li–S batteries are relatively light (about the density of water). They were used on the longest and highest-altitude solar-powered airplane flight in August 2008. Lithium-sulfur batteries may succeed lithium-ion cells because of their higher energy density and reduced cost from the use of sulfur. Currently, the best Li–S batteries offer specific energies on the order of 500 W·h/kg, significantly better than most lithium-ion batteries, which are in the range of 150 to 250 W·h/kg. Li–S batteries with up to 1,500 charge and discharge cycles have been demonstrated.
Lithium Thionyl Chloride (LiSOCl2)
Lithium-thionyl chloride batteries are not rechargeable. The cell contains a liquid mixture of thionyl chloride (SOCl2), lithium tetrachloroaluminate (LiAlCl4), and niobium pentachloride (NbCl5) which act as the catholyte, electrolyte, electron sink, and dendrite preventive during reverse voltage condition, electrolyte, respectively. A porous carbon material serves as a cathode current collector which receives electrons from the external circuit. Lithium-thionyl chloride batteries are well suited to extremely low-current or moderate pulse applications where a service life of up to 40 years is necessary. Lithium-thionyl chloride batteries are generally found more in commercial/industrial: automatic meter reading (AMR) and medical: automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) applications.
The lithium–titanate battery is a type of rechargeable battery which has the advantage of being faster to charge than other lithium-ion batteries. Titanate batteries are used in certain Japanese-only versions of Mitsubishi's i-MiEV electric vehicle and Honda uses them in its EV-neo electric bike and Fit EV. Opportunity charging in public transportation, such as large capacity electric bus project TOSA, is using the Titanate batteries high charging capability to partly recharge the battery in 15 seconds while passengers are disembarking and embarking at bus stops. Due to their high level of safety, lithium-titanate batteries are now being used in mobile medical devices.
Magnesium batteries are batteries with magnesium as the active element at the anode of an electrochemical cell. Both non-rechargeable primary cell and rechargeable secondary cell chemistries have been investigated. Magnesium primary cell batteries have been commercialised and have found use as reserve and general use batteries.
Manganese Dioxide-Zinc (MnO2)
Alkaline batteries are a type of primary battery dependent upon the reaction between zinc metal and manganese dioxide. Another type of alkaline batteries are secondary rechargeable alkaline battery, which allows the reuse of specially designed cells. Compared with zinc-carbon batteries of the Leclanché cell or zinc chloride types, alkaline batteries have a higher energy density and longer shelf-life, with the same voltage. The alkaline battery gets its name because it has an alkaline electrolyte of potassium hydroxide, instead of the acidic ammonium chloride or zinc chloride electrolyte of the zinc-carbon batteries. Other battery systems also use alkaline electrolytes, but they use different active materials for the electrodes.
A rechargeable alkaline battery (also known as alkaline rechargeable or rechargeable alkaline manganese (RAM)) is a type of alkaline battery that is capable of recharging for repeated use. The first generation rechargeable alkaline batteries were introduced by Union Carbide and Mallory in the early 1970s. Several patents were introduced after Union Carbide's product discontinuation and eventually, in 1986, Battery Technologies Inc of Canada was founded to commercially develop a 2nd generation product based on those patents. Their first product to be licensed out and sold commercially was to Rayovac under the trademark "Renewal". The next year, "Pure Energy" batteries were released by Pure Energy. After reformulating the Renewals to be mercury-free in 1995, subsequently licensed RAM alkalines were mercury-free and included ALCAVA, AccuCell, Grandcell, and EnviroCell. Subsequent patents and advancements in technology have been introduced. The formats include AAA, AA, C, D, and snap-on 9-volt batteries. Rechargeable alkaline batteries are manufactured fully charged and have the ability to hold their charge for years, longer than NiCd and NiMH batteries, which self-discharge. Rechargeable alkaline batteries can have a high recharging efficiency and have a less environmental impact than disposable cells.
A mercury battery, also referred to as mercuric oxide battery, or mercury cell, are non-rechargeable electrochemical battery, a primary cell. Mercury batteries use a reaction between mercuric oxide and zinc electrodes in an alkaline electrolyte. The voltage during discharge remains practically constant at 1.35 volts, and the capacity is much greater than a similarly sized zinc carbon battery. Mercury batteries were used in the shape of button cells for watches, hearing aids, cameras and calculators, and in larger forms for other applications.
Molten salt battery: High-temperature battery that offers both a higher energy density through the proper selection of reactant pairs as well as a higher power density by means of a high conductivity molten salt electrolyte. They are used in services where high energy density and high power density are required. These features make rechargeable molten salt batteries the most promising batteries for powering electric vehicles. However, operating temperatures of 400 to 700°C bring problems with thermal management and safety, and places more stringent requirements on the rest of the battery components. Its composition includes a molten salt electrolyte.
Nickel-cadmium battery: This chemistry gives the longest cycle life of any currently available battery (over 1,500 cycles), but has low energy density compared with some of the other chemistries. Batteries using older technology suffer from memory effect, but this has been reduced drastically in modern batteries. Cadmium is toxic to most life forms, so it poses environmental concerns. It's chemical composition is nickel for the cathode and cadmium for the anode. It is used in many domestic applications but is being superseded by Li-ion and Ni-MH types. It has been mass-produced since 1946.
The Nickel-iron battery is a very robust battery that is tolerant of mistreatment, like overcharge, over-discharge, short-circuiting and thermal shock, and can have a very long life. It is often used in backup situations where it can be continuously charged and can last for 20-50 years. Its limitations are low specific energy, poor charge retention, poor low-temperature performance and high cost of manufacture. It's chemical composition is nickel(III) oxide-hydroxide for the cathode, iron for the anode, and potassium hydroxide for the electrolyte. This battery chemistry has been produced since 1903.
Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH)
Nickel metal hydride battery: Similar to a nickel-cadmium battery (NiCd) but it uses a hydride absorbing alloy for the anode, which makes it less detrimental to the environment. In addition, a NiMH battery can have two to three times the capacity of an equivalent size NiCd and the memory effect is not as significant. However, compared with lithium-ion chemistry, the volumetric energy density is lower and self-discharge is higher. It's chemical composition is nickel for the cathode and a hydride absorbing alloy for the anode. Applications for the battery include hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius, Toyota RAV4-EV all-electric plug-in Electric car, and consumer electronics. It was made available in 1983. The most advanced versions, up to 105 amp-hours, were made by a partnership between Panasonic and Toyota. These are the standard battery for all-electric EVs capable of lasting longer than the life of the vehicle while yielding a range more than 100 miles on a charge, adequate acceleration, and modest weight.
Nickel Oxyhydroxide (NiOx)
Nickel oxyhydroxide battery (NiOx) is a type of primary cell. It is non-rechargeable and must be disposed of after a single-use. NiOx batteries can be used in high-drain applications such as digital cameras. NiOx batteries used in low-drain applications have a lifespan similar to an alkaline battery. NiOx batteries produce a higher voltage of 1.7V compared to an alkaline battery of 1.5V, which can cause problems in certain products, such as equipment with incandescent light bulbs (such as flashlights/torches), or devices without a voltage regulator.
Nickel-zinc battery: A type of rechargeable battery commonly used in the light electric vehicle sector. The battery is still not commonly found in the mass market, but they are considered as the next generation batteries used for high drain applications and are expected to replace lead-acid batteries because of their higher energy density and higher power to mass ratio, up to 75% lighter for the same power. In addition, they are expected to be priced somewhere in between nickel-cadmium and lead-acid batteries but have twice the energy storing capacity of nickel-cadmium batteries. Problems with Nickel-zinc include the relatively high cost with limited life expectancy.
A potassium-ion battery or K-ion battery (abbreviated as KIB) is a type of battery and analogue to lithium-ion batteries, using potassium ions for charge transfer instead of lithium ions.
Silver Calcium alloy batteries are a type of lead-acid battery with grids made from lead-calcium-silver alloy, instead of the traditional lead-antimony alloy or newer lead-calcium alloy. They stand out for its resistance to corrosion and the destructive effects of high temperatures. The result of this improvement is manifested in increased battery life and maintaining a high starting power over time.
A silver-oxide battery is a primary cell with a very high energy-to-weight ratio. Available either in small sizes as button cells, where the amount of silver used is minimal and not a significant contributor to the product cost, or in large custom-designed batteries, where the superior performance of the silver-oxide chemistry outweighs cost considerations. These larger cells are mostly found in applications for the military, for example in Mark 37 torpedoes or on Alfa-class submarines. In recent years they have become important as reserve batteries for manned and unmanned spacecraft. Over the counter, uses are seen in watches and calculators. Spent batteries can be processed to recover their silver content.
Polysulfide Bromide (PSB)
The polysulfide bromide battery (PSB), (sometimes polysulphide bromide), is a type of regenerative fuel cell involving a reversible electrochemical reaction between two salt-solution electrolytes: sodium bromide and sodium polysulfide. It is an example and type of redox (reduction–oxidation) flow battery.
Sodium-ion batteries (SIB) are a type of rechargeable metal-ion battery that uses sodium ions as charge carriers.
Sodium-sulfur battery is a type of molten-salt battery constructed from liquid sodium (Na) and sulfur (S). This type of battery exhibits a high energy density, high efficiency of charge/discharge (89—92%), long cycle life, and is made from inexpensive, non-toxic materials. However, the operating temperature of 300 to 350 °C and the highly corrosive nature of sodium make it suitable only for large-scale non-mobile applications. A suggested application is grid energy storage in the electric grid.
Zinc–air batteries (non-rechargeable) and zinc-air fuel cells (mechanically rechargeable) are metal-air batteries powered by oxidizing zinc with oxygen from the air. These batteries have high energy densities and are relatively inexpensive to produce. Sizes range from very small button cells for hearing aids, larger batteries used in film cameras that previously used mercury batteries, to very large batteries used for electric vehicle propulsion.
Zinc bromide battery: A type of hybrid flow battery. A solution of zinc bromide is stored in two tanks. When the battery is charged or discharged the electrolytes are pumped through a reactor and back into the tanks. One tank is used to store the electrolyte for the positive electrode reactions and the other for the negative. Its composition includes the zinc bromide electrolyte.
A zinc–carbon battery is a dry cell primary battery that delivers about 1.5 volts of direct current from the electrochemical reaction between zinc and manganese dioxide. A carbon rod collects the current from the manganese dioxide electrode, giving the name to the cell. A dry cell is usually made of a zinc can which also serves as the anode with a negative potential, while the inert carbon rod is the positive cathode. General-purpose batteries may use an aqueous paste of ammonium chloride as an electrolyte, possibly mixed with some zinc chloride solution. Heavy-duty types use a paste primarily composed of zinc chloride. Zinc–carbon batteries were the first commercial dry batteries, developed from the technology of the wet Leclanché cell. They made flashlights and other portable devices possible because the battery can function in any orientation. They are still useful in low drains or intermittent use devices such as remote controls, flashlights, clocks or transistor radios. Zinc–carbon dry cells are single-use primary cells.
Zinc–cerium batteries are a type of redox flow battery first developed by Plurion Inc. (UK) during the 2000s. In this rechargeable battery, both negative zinc and positive cerium electrolytes are circulated through an electrochemical flow reactor during the operation and stored in two separated reservoirs. Negative and positive electrolyte compartments in the electrochemical reactor are separated by a cation-exchange membrane, usually Nafion (DuPont). The Ce(III)/Ce(IV) and Zn(II)/Zn redox reactions take place at the positive and negative electrodes, respectively. Since zinc is electroplated during the charge at the negative electrode this system is classified as a hybrid flow battery. Unlike in zinc-bromine and zinc–chlorine redox flow batteries, no condensation device is needed to dissolve halogen gases. The reagents used in the zinc-cerium system are considerably less expensive than those used in the vanadium flow battery The Zn-Ce flow battery is still in the early stages of development.
Similar to Zinc-carbon
A zinc ion battery or Zn-ion battery (abbreviated as ZIB) uses zinc ions (Zn2+) as the charge carriers. Specifically, ZIBs utilize Zn as the anode, Zn-intercalating materials as the cathode, and a Zn-containing electrolyte.
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