This is an article about the classification of lithium batteries. It covers the six common categories of batteries and also introduces lithium batteries that have not yet been widely commercialized. Please continue reading to see if it contains the information you are looking for.

Contents

What Is A Lithium Battery?

“Lithium batteries” is a broad term that typically refers to batteries with lithium as the electrolyte. They transfer energy through the movement of ions between the positive and negative electrodes. You’re probably familiar with lithium batteries, as the lithium-ion batteries and lithium iron phosphate batteries we commonly use fall into this category. We usually classify lithium batteries based on their appearance, application areas, and the chemical substances they use. So, let’s explore the specific types of lithium batteries together! 

The Different Types of Lithium Battery

“Lithium batteries” are a type of chemical battery, generally using a specific chemical substance as the positive electrode material. The choice of positive electrode material affects the performance of the battery. There are many available options for positive electrode materials, including lithium cobalt oxide, lithium manganese oxide, lithium iron phosphate, and nickel-cobalt-aluminum ternary materials.

Now, let’s start by introducing six types of lithium batteries that you might be familiar with based on their common usage.

6 Main Types Of Lithium Batteries Based on Battery Chemistry:

  • Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery (LFP)

As the name suggests, a lithium iron phosphate battery (also known as LiFePO4 battery or LFP battery) is a type of lithium battery that uses lithium iron phosphate as the positive electrode material.

Advantage
  1. Excellent Safety Performance:

The positive electrode material of lifepo4 batteries gives them a highly stable chemical structure. Additionally, they exhibit high-temperature resistance, making them unlikely to catch fire or explode. You can confidently use them at home.

  1. Longer Cycle Life

The chemical properties of lithium iron phosphate determine its extended cycle life. Under optimal conditions, it can withstand over 10,000 cycles, which is significantly higher than NMC batteries. This is why lifepo4 batteries are increasingly used as power sources in your daily environment. 

For example, the Delong factory’s lifepo4 batteries have a cycle life of 6,500 cycles, and under ideal conditions, they can last for approximately 12 years.

  1. Environmentally Friendly

The materials used in LFP batteries are commonly found in the natural environment. These batteries do not contain rare metals, avoid excessive resource extraction, and do not cause environmental pollution. 

  1. Suitable as a Lead-Acid Replacement Battery

A LiFePO4 battery has a rated voltage of 3.2V per individual cell. By connecting cells in series, you can achieve higher voltages. For example, when four battery cells are connected in series, the total voltage reaches 12.8V. In fields where stable, safe, and long-lasting energy supply is required, lifepo4 batteries are the preferred alternative to lead-acid batteries.

12.8V 170Ah Lifepo4 Battery Advantage

12.8V 170Ah Lifepo4 Battery Advantage

Disadvantage
  1. Slightly Higher Cost

According to reports, the minimum price for lifepo4 batteries in 2020 was $80 per kilowatt-hour. Overall, the manufacturing cost is still slightly higher than that of other types of batteries.

  1. Relatively Low Energy Density

In 2020, the lifepo4 batteries manufactured by CATL (a well-known manufacturer) had a maximum energy density of 160 watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg). However, the highest energy density for NMC batteries has already exceeded 300 Wh/kg.

Application
  1. Energy Storage Systems

Due to the safety performance and longer lifespan of lifepo4 batteries, significant manufacturers are keen to use them in residential energy storage systems and solar energy storage systems. Perhaps your house is already equipped with a wall-mounted battery made from lifepo4 cells. 

  1. Electric Vehicles

Lifepo4 batteries possess instant power delivery and are commonly used as the power source for electric vehicles. For instance, electric bicycles, forklifts, electric cars, campervans, and boats frequently utilize 12V LFP batteries.

  1. Mobile Devices

This includes e-cigarettes, flashlights, radio-controlled models, portable electronic devices, industrial sensors, and the laptops you use at work. 

  • Lithium Cobalt Oxide Battery (LCO)

Lithium Cobalt Oxide Battery (LiCoO2 Battery) is a type of lithium-ion battery that uses lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2) as the positive electrode and graphite as the negative electrode. In addition to the positive and negative electrodes, it also consists of an electrolyte and a separator. 

Advantage
  1. High Energy Density

Lithium cobalt oxide batteries have a relatively high energy density, allowing them to store more energy and extend the battery life of your devices.

  1. Long Cycle Life

The cycle life of lithium cobalt oxide batteries typically ranges from several hundred to one thousand cycles. Although it may not match the cycle life of LFP batteries or lithium-ion batteries, it is still quite good compared to other types of batteries.

  1. Good Consistency

Lithium cobalt oxide batteries exhibit stable performance and excellent product consistency.

Disadvantage
  1. Slightly Higher Cost

Cobalt is a scarce metal resource with limited supply and relatively high prices. Therefore, lithium cobalt oxide batteries have a slightly higher cost.

  1. Safety

The safety performance of lithium cobalt oxide batteries is poor. Due to their intolerance to high temperatures, they are prone to thermal runaway during overcharging, which can lead to battery fires or explosions.

Application

The nominal voltage of a lithium cobalt oxide battery is 3.7V, which is mainly used in portable electronic devices such as mobile phones and laptop computers.

  • Lithium Manganese Oxide Battery (LMO )

A lithium battery that uses lithium manganese oxide as the positive electrode material is called a lithium manganese oxide battery. Inside the LMO battery, there are also negative electrode materials, an electrolyte, and a separator. Based on this positive electrode material, you can observe the following advantages and disadvantages:

Advantage
  1. Low Manufacturing Cost

Lithium manganese oxide batteries have a low cost, as the raw material resources are abundant and relatively inexpensive.

  1. High Energy Density

They offer a large energy density, allowing them to provide sustained power to devices over an extended period.

  1. Minimal Environmental Impact

The raw materials used in these batteries have the weakest toxicity among all positive electrode materials in lithium batteries, resulting in minimal environmental impact.

  1. High-Temperature Resistance

LMO batteries can operate within a temperature range of -50 °C to 45°C, and their risk of thermal runaway is relatively low.

Disadvantage
  1. Lower Specific Capacity

Lithium manganese oxide batteries have a lower specific capacity, and their capacity gradually decreases with an increase in charging cycles.

  1. High Heat Resistance

While they exhibit strong resistance to thermal shocks, there is a risk of fire and explosion in cases of short circuits or overcharging.

  1. Limited Cycle Life

These batteries have fewer charging cycles, resulting in a relatively shorter lifespan.

Application

The lithium manganese oxide battery has good rate performance and can be used as the power source for some electric vehicles. Meanwhile, it also has applications in portable electronic devices, electric tools, and other fields.

  • Lithium Titanate Battery (LTO )

Titanate lithium battery, also known as lithium-titanium-oxide (LTO) battery, has lithium titanium oxide as its positive electrode material and graphite as its negative electrode material. LTO battery is a new type of lithium-ion battery, which is rechargeable and operates at a voltage of 2.4V.

Advantage
  1. Long Cycle Life

Under ideal conditions, LTO batteries can withstand tens of thousands of charge-discharge cycles.

  1. High-Rate Charge and Discharge

These batteries can be rapidly charged and discharged at high rates.

  1. Good Safety Performance

LTO batteries exhibit stable discharge voltage, contributing to their safety.

  1. Wide Operating Temperature Range

Wide operating temperature range. They perform well even in high and low temperature environments.

  1. Environmentally Friendly

These batteries are green and eco-friendly, as they do not contain metals like cobalt.

Disadvantage
  1. Energy density is slightly lower than other lithium-ion power batteries.
  2. Manufacturing costs are relatively high.
  3. There is still an issue with swelling.
  4. There are differences in battery consistency.
Application

Due to their high safety, stability, and cycle life, lithium titanate batteries are in strong demand in new energy vehicles, electric vehicles, ships, energy storage systems, and industrial equipment.

  • Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide Battery (NMC)

The constituent elements of lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide batteries include lithium (Li), nickel (Ni), manganese (Mn), cobalt (Co), and oxygen (O). Its chemical formula is LiNiMnCoO2, abbreviated as NMC, Li-NMC, LNMC, or NCM.

Advantage

Among its constituent materials, nickel and manganese determine that NMC batteries have a higher energy density and cycle life, while cobalt provides good safety performance.

Disadvantage

Cobalt is scarce and expensive, so the manufacturing cost of NMC batteries tends to be high.

Application

As you can see, Li-NMC batteries have many advantages. Therefore, their application fields are also pervasive, such as electric cars for outdoor use, mobile electronic devices you use, and solar energy storage systems used for residential and commercial purposes.

  • Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide Battery (NCA)

The positive electrode material of lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide battery is lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide, abbreviated as Li-NCA, LNCA, or NCA, containing lithium (Li), nickel (Ni), cobalt (Co), and aluminum oxide (Al₂O₃).

Advantage

The energy density of NCA is higher than that of lithium cobalt oxide and lithium iron phosphate. It has a long cycle life, so NCA batteries can maintain their working status for a long time, and its charging speed is breakneck. This should save you a lot of time.

Disadvantage

The limited nickel and cobalt elements resources have led to a slightly higher manufacturing cost for NCA batteries.

Application

Lithium-nickel-cobalt-aluminum oxide batteries have a high energy density. They thus are in high demand in industries that require long battery life, such as electric vehicles and energy storage systems.

Other Lithium Batteries Based on Battery Chemistry:

  • Lithium Metal Battery

Lithium metal batteries are lithium batteries with lithium metal as the anode material, which are further divided into non-rechargeable primary batteries, and rechargeable secondary batteries.

Advantage

Lithium metal batteries have a high energy density, allowing them to store a large amount of energy, ensuring that your devices can operate for extended periods. Even if you don’t use the battery for a long time, they can maintain a relatively high charge because of their low self-discharge rate. Additionally, they have a long cycle life, making them suitable for devices where frequent battery replacement is not necessary. 

Disadvantage

Similarly, lithium metal resources are not abundant. When used as battery raw materials, the cost is still relatively high. Frequent mining also has an impact on the environment, and improper battery disposal can lead to pollution. Additionally, in terms of safety, lithium metal batteries are somewhat sensitive to overcharging, overdischarging, and high temperatures. 

Application

In fields such as portable electronic devices, electric vehicles, energy storage systems, aerospace, and other areas, lithium metal batteries are still quite common.

  • Lithium Ion Battery

Lithium-ion batteries are familiar rechargeable batteries that provide energy through the flow of lithium ions between positive and negative electrodes.

Advantage
  1. No Memory Effect

Lithium-ion batteries do not exhibit a memory effect, allowing you to charge them at any time.

  1. High Energy Storage

These batteries can store a large amount of energy, making them convenient for your long-term use.

  1. Low Self-Discharge Rate

Even during extended periods of inactivity, lithium-ion batteries maintain a low self-discharge rate.

  1. Long Cycle Life

They can withstand thousands of charge-discharge cycles, resulting in a long lifespan.

Disadvantage
  1. In the later stages of use, lithium-ion batteries experience capacity degradation.
  2. Improper practices such as overcharging or over-discharging can affect the lifespan of lithium-ion batteries, and may even lead to an explosion.
Application

Lithium-ion batteries are widely used, ranging from small mobile phones to electric cars, and from indoor to outdoor applications.

  • Lithium Polymer Battery 

Lithium polymer batteries are rechargeable batteries that use polymers as electrolytes. They belong to the category of lithium-ion batteries, and are also known as lithium-ion polymer batteries (abbreviated as LiPo, LIP, Li-poly, lithium-poly, etc.)

12V Lithium Polymer Battery Pack

12V Lithium Polymer Battery Pack

Advantage
  1. Lithium polymer batteries have no memory effect,  and their self-discharge rate is also low. and do not contain harmful metals. Additionally, they do not contain harmful metals, so you don’t need to worry about their environmental impact.
  1. Lithium polymer batteries can be made as thin as 0.5mm, making them very suitable for small and mobile devices, and their shape can be designed arbitrarily.
  1. These batteries offer a high energy density, resulting in longer working time than lithium-ion batteries.
Disadvantage
  1. The price is as high as that of lithium-ion batteries.
  2. It is sensitive to temperature and requires great attention during charging and discharging. It’s best to have a dedicated Battery Management System (BMS).
Application

Lithium polymer batteries have application space in mobile devices, electric tools, electric vehicles, and energy storage systems, such as Apple products, and Japanese car companies like Toyota.

  • Lithium Ceramic Battery

You may not often use lithium ceramic batteries, which are special lithium-ion batteries usually composed of oxide ceramic materials as the positive electrode.

Pros and Cons

Although the manufacturing cost of lithium ceramic batteries is not low, the oxide ceramic material used in the positive electrode enables it to maintain good performance even at high temperatures and is less susceptible to thermal effects.

In addition, the electrolyte of lithium ceramic batteries is a solid material, which can resist high-intensity impact and puncture, making it relatively safe, but this also makes its conductivity relatively poor.

Application

As a specialized battery, it is commonly used in environments with high safety requirements, such as aerospace, military equipment, medical devices, and industrial automation.

  • Lithium Iodine Battery

Lithium-iodine batteries use lithium metal as the positive electrode material and iodide as the negative electrode material. They complete charge and discharge through the separation and combination process of lithium and iodine ions.

Advantage

Lithium-iodine batteries not only have high energy density and long service life, but also can be charged in a short period of time, greatly improving the efficiency of energy use. Additionally, it is also very environmentally friendly.

Disadvantage

When lithium-iodine batteries are not working, they have a high self-discharge rate and are prone to energy loss. Also, be careful not to overcharge or discharge.

Application

The high energy density possessed by lithium-iodine batteries makes them very popular in scenarios requiring long-term power output, such as energy storage systems, medical equipment, military equipment, diving equipment, aerospace, and aviation.

  • Lithium Graphene Battery

Lithium graphene batteries use lithium metal oxide as the anode and graphene as the conductive agent. Although their structure is similar to lithium-ion batteries, their performance is superior.

Advantage

Graphene, as a conductor, increases the battery’s energy density, improves the conductivity, and significantly enhances the charge and discharge efficiency. Even at high temperatures, the battery can still function stably.

Disadvantage

You must have thought that the manufacturing cost of batteries is not low, since graphene is used as a raw material.

Application

The power battery system dramatically needs this kind of battery with high energy density. Of course, applications like portable electronic devices also greatly need it for fast charging.

  • Lithium Sulfur Battery

Lithium-sulfur batteries are rechargeable batteries, and at the same time, they are a new type of high-energy-density batteries. Their positive electrode material is sulfur or sulfide, and their negative electrode material is lithium metal. They are currently in the process of gradual commercialization.

Advantage

Compared with lithium-ion batteries, lithium-sulfur batteries not only have better environmental friendliness and lower manufacturing costs, but also have higher energy density.

Disadvantage

The sulfur conductivity in lithium-sulfur batteries is poor, and the charging and discharging efficiency is not high. Furthermore, the battery has a short cycle life and unstable performance.

Application

Higher energy density than lithium-ion batteries also gives it a place in the fields of energy storage, electric vehicles, military, and so on.

  • Lithium Silicon Battery

The lithium-silicon battery uses silicon as the anode material and lithium metal as the cathode material. It is a new type of lithium-ion battery technology that is currently undergoing gradual commercialization.

Pros And Cons

Lithium silicon batteries can store more capacity. Silicon is abundant in nature, so there’s no need to worry about disrupting the environmental balance, and it is also expected to reduce the manufacturing cost of the battery. However, silicon may also affect the battery’s service life.

Application

Suitable for development in areas requiring high energy density, such as energy storage systems, electric vehicles, etc.

  • Lithium Phosphorus Battery

Lithium-phosphorus batteries are still in the research and development stage. They are rechargeable batteries that use lithium as the anode and phosphorus-based materials as the cathode. It is expected to have a relatively high energy density.

  • Lithium Aair Battery

Lithium-air batteries use the chemical reaction between oxygen and lithium to generate electricity, and they are currently still in the research and development stage. It is expected that they will have higher energy density and could become a critical turning point in the field of renewable energy.

Based on Battery Structure

According to their appearance and structure, lithium batteries can be divided into three types. These three types are the mainstream three encapsulation forms, which can overcome space limitations, apply to different scenarios and devices, and meet diverse usage needs.

1. Cylindrical Lithium Battery

Just like the name suggests, a cylindrical lithium battery uses a cylindrical steel casing as its packaging material. These batteries have a compact overall size, and you often encounter them in everyday life. Common models of cylindrical lithium batteries include 14650, 17490, 18650, 21700, and 26650. They are widely used in devices such as laptops and power tools. 

 2. Prismatic Lithium Battery

Prismatic lithium batteries have a simpler structure compared to cylindrical lithium batteries. They often use aluminum casing as the external packaging, resulting in a lighter overall weight. Due to their large capacity and high energy density, square lithium batteries are commonly used in portable devices such as mobile phones, tablets, and drones.

3. Lithium Pouch Cell

Lithium Pouch Cell is a lithium-ion battery with a polymer outer shell wrapped around the outside of the liquid lithium-ion battery, using aluminum-plastic film for packaging in structure.

Advantage
  1. Good Safety Performance

Safety is undoubtedly your top concern. However, the packaging of aluminum-plastic film will only cause it to swell and rupture when problems occur, rather than explode like aluminum shell batteries.

  1. Relatively Lightweight

For the same capacity, the weight of soft-pack lithium batteries is 40% lighter than steel shell lithium batteries and 20% lighter than aluminum shell lithium batteries.

  1. Shape Can Be Adjusted Freely

You can completely request manufacturers to flexibly adjust the shape of the Lithium Pouch Cell according to your needs and develop new cell models. 

Disadvantage

Lithium Pouch Cells have poor consistency. Developing new models is costly, and they are also less resistant to shocks. They are prone to leakage due to impact or compression.

Application

Lithium Pouch Cells are relatively thin and have a flexible shape. They are very suitable for slim portable devices and scenarios with limited space or custom shape requirements.

Based on Battery Application

When classified by application field, you will discover that lithium batteries play an indispensable role in your life.

1. Energy Storage Battery

Lithium batteries are widely used in home energy storage systems, commercial energy storage systems, industrial energy storage systems, and grid peak shaving. They can provide users with stable backup energy and save electricity costs.

2. Power Battery

The large capacity and high energy density of lithium batteries make them play a crucial role in the field of electric transportation.

3. Consumer Lithium Battery

Lithium batteries are widely used in portable electronic devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and digital cameras.

What Type of Lithium Battery is Better?

There is no absolute best; there is only what is more suitable. The same principle applies to choosing lithium batteries because each type has its advantages, disadvantages, and applicability. Although lithium-ion batteries, lithium iron phosphate batteries, and lithium polymer batteries are popular in the market, selecting the best lithium battery for you requires considering specific usage requirements. You can compare factors such as safety, energy density, cycle life, and weight.

Conclusion

There are various types of lithium batteries, and the above are just the more common ones. I hope they will be helpful for your study of lithium batteries.