A new breed of functional, high-energy lithium batteries is changing the shape of next-generation products. Light and portable electronic devices, starting from notebook computers to handheld medical equipment to power tools, are benefiting from constant developments in energy density, together with from the popularity of thin-format laminate cells. For design and style engineers, the bottom line is that compact products together with extended charge times are more possible than ever.
Indeed, designers of consumer goods are doing exactly that. Apple Inc. comes with notably used laminate-style lithium polymer batteries to great advantage in the Ipod and iPad, along with the paper-thin MacBook Air.
General Motors and also Nissan are really utilizing the same laminate-style systems on the Volt and Leaf, while Tesla Motors is applying 6,800 cylindrical lithium-ion batteries in its highly marketed Roadster. At the same time, lithium is definitely getting a significant niche within the medical industry, at which cart-based equipment are which gives way to hand held displays.
Some of the keys to the current rise of lithium-ion cells can be the consistent increase in capacity. Lately, 2.2Amp-hour cobalt-based lithium battery packs were all the rage, however in the past 5yrs, they’re replaced instead by lithium cells that made use of nickel-manganese, then nickel-aluminum. Within this march of advancement, battery power functions went up by to 2.6A-hr. and next 2.9A-hr.
Around June, Panasonic presented the NCR18650A, a good lithium-ion cell that once again lengthens battery pack capacity, this time to 3.1A-hr. Later on this year, some battery power manufacturers would like to move to 3.4A-hr. Plus 4.0A-hr. batteries in the popular 18650 form aspect (cylindrical battery packs slightly bigger than an AA) might be released as soon as 2013, they assert.
Cylindrical cells push the envelope Technical engineers point out that the higher-energy breed of power packs is actually opening innovative applications in countless industries, but specifically in healthcare. There, customers are making use of these items in portable ultrasound, portable o2 concentrators, and also portable workstations for keeping track of their patients. Furthermore, a more traditional set of consumers still is utilizing lithium-ion as a replacement for nickel-metal hydride power packs in notebook computers, cellular phones, digital cameras, and also power tools.
Laminate batteries make a comeback Even within the lithium-ion grouping, however, a sub-category is increasing momentum. Lithium polymer, another branch of lithium-ion which utilizes a flat laminate composition, is definitely reaching a growing array of programs. “There’s definitely a trend toward lithium polymer in portable devices because there’s a race to make them all thinner,” TI’s Barsukov says. “All of the newest, coolest gadgets out there, starting with Apple and Android devices, are using polymer because of the thin cells and the high energy density.”
Definitely, Apple’s Mac Book air measures 0.67 “in thickness, thanks to some extent to the utilization of lithium polymer batteries. Lithium polymer presents some other advantages. One of them:
Overall flexibility, that permits technical engineers to easily modify any design to adjust to an approved space Aspect ratio, which makes it better to create a large, flat cell Higher C-rate, that makes it possible to provide more current in a shorter time Lithium polymer provides many possibilities mainly because it uses a laminate structure that has an electrolyte which can range between liquid to gel to solid. Not like conventional lithium-ion cells, that happen to be included in a metal can, lithium polymer cells reside in a minimized foil bag, just like any potato chip bag. The multi-layered bag prevents fluids from moving into the battery and also avoids electrolytes from leaking out, however it offers an additional benefit: It’s far lighter and also slimmer compared to cylindrical metal covering of an 18650. That, in turn, makes it possible to create a battery pack that is definitely comparable in form to a loose-leaf notebook.
Furthermore, lithium polymer cells offer better rates of discharge. The C-rate — a parameter that describes the time it requires to fully discharge a battery — is a lot higher in polymer batteries when compared to cylindrical or even prismatic lithium-ion battery power. While traditional lithium-ion batteries top out at C-rates of roughly 2, lithium polymer batteries can offer C-rates approaching 15 or more. The cabability to discharge current at quicker rates results in greater power for the applications.