Safer Alternatives to Lithium Ion Batteries?
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Because of lithium’s enormous capacity as an energy source, it has been the focus of much of the rechargeable battery industry’s time and attention. This effort has led to the development of the lithium ion battery which is rechargeable and more stable than its solid lithium counterparts, and used to charge our world’s most popular electronic devices. The popularity of the lithium-ion battery can be attributed to its high energy density, low self-discharge rate, quick re-charge time, and size. However, the lithium ion battery is inherently unstable, which means there is, and will always be a risk associated with its use.
This raises the question: Is this a risk we need to take if we want the reward that comes from using our favorite devices or are there safer alternatives available?
Examining the Lithium Ion Battery According to batterymart.com, the chemical difference between lithium and lithium ion batteries is that lithium batteries are composed of the actual lithium metal, whereas lithium ion batteries are made from lithium ion compounds.
Lithium metal batteries have an historic reputation for instability. According to an article by Eric C. Evarts in the journal, Nature, at one point in the development of the lithium battery, its chemistry was designed in such a way that it released toxic gases, which built up inside the battery. When these gases came into contact with air, they ignited. This ignition resulted in dangerous fires and property damage. As technology progressed, however, developers discovered that lithium ion compounds are more stable—as long as they are properly sequestered from one another. These compounds, separated from one another within the battery, create a circuit charge. This difference accounts for the lithium ion battery’s increased stability and rechargeability. However, if for some reason the compounds come in contact with one another, big trouble ensues.
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