Lithium-Ion Batteries – Basics and Applications

Lithium-Ion Batteries - Basics and Applications

Life without batteries is inconceivable. Stored energy has become an integral part of our everyday lives. Without this over 100-year-old technology, the success story of laptops, cell phones, and tablets would not have been possible. Although there are many ways of storing power, there is only one system that enables the functions that meet consumers’ expectations of a storage medium – the rechargeable battery. A battery that can be discharged and charged at the push of a button. Strictly speaking, the battery is not a storage system for electric power but an electrochemical energy converter. And in recent decades its development has followed many convoluted paths.

The history of the battery, both as a primary and secondary element, has not yet been fully elucidated today. We know that the voltaic pile was introduced by A. Volta (1745 – 1827) around 1800. Some 65 years later, around 1866, G. Leclanché (1839 – 1882) was awarded a patent for a primary element, the so-called Leclanché element. The element consisted of a zinc anode, a graphite cathode, and an electrolyte made of ammonium chloride. The cathode had a manganese dioxide coating on the boundary surface with the electrolyte. C. Gassner (1855 – 1942) further developed this system, and in 1901 P. Schmidt (1868 – 1948) succeeded in inventing the first galvanic dry element based on zinc and carbon.

The further development of batteries – both as primary and secondary elements – can be described as tentative. There were not any major breakthroughs with regard to an increase in specific energy or specific power. Nevertheless, the technical and chemical properties of the elements were improved on an ongoing basis. Today, nearly all battery systems have high cycling stability and safety and are completely maintenance-free.

It was not until the beginning of the 1970s that a new era began. The first ideas for a new system were born at the Technical University of Munich, Germany: lithium batteries with reversible alkaline-metal-ion intercalation in the carbon anode and an oxidic cathode. It was some years before the first commercial lithium battery was launched on the market by Sony in 1991. Constant development – which also involved implementing new materials – resulted in this unparalleled success.

Today we are faced with new challenges. The change in paradigms in mobility and energy supply (the shift away from fossil fuels) requires new, low-cost, low-maintenance, and lightweight energy storage systems. These requirements are, to a certain extent, contradictory and therefore not fully realizable. As a result, there is tremendous pressure on research and development as well as on the industrial sector to come up with innovations that bring us closer to this goal. Although R&D activities have increased in recent years, partly because new institutes have been set up in universities and research centers, only time will tell whether they are sufficient.

The aim of Lithium-Ion Batteries: Basics and Applications is to make a small contribution toward successfully managing the pending change in paradigms. 32 articles by 54 authors provide a broad overview of all of the relevant areas of the lithium-ion battery: the chemistry and design of a battery cell, production of batteries, deployment of the battery system in its two most important applications as well as issues concerning safety, transport, and recycling.

The book is divided into five sections. At the beginning, an overview of the different storage systems implementing the electrochemical conversion of energy is provided. The second section is devoted to all of the facets of the lithium-ion battery. Important materials and components of the cell are presented in detail.

These components include the cathode’s and anode’s chemical materials as well as the conducting salts and the electrolyte. Several chapters are dedicated to the battery system’s modular design; the modules are in turn made up of a large number of cells and necessary mechanical components. Next, the electric components are explained. This section closes with details on thermal management and the battery management system in addition to an outlook.

The third section focuses on the production resources required for manufacturing batteries, followed by the necessary test procedures. Before the battery is deployed, a series of questions regarding transport, safety, and recycling – and more – need to be addressed. The fourth section is devoted to these issues. Last but not least, the applications – in the area of electric mobility and stationary uses – are described in the fifth, and last, section.

The main aim of this manual is to provide help to all people who want to acquire an understanding of state-of-the-art battery technology. It describes the lithium-ion battery in great detail in order to show the difficulties that manufacturers are still battling with today with 20 years of experience under their belts. It also strives to demonstrate the tremendous potential of this technology and the possibilities it holds for users and newcomers in research and development. The book does not, however, provide the same degree of depth as a scientific paper on one of the many issues related to the lithium-ion battery. It is intended as a reference book at a high technical level.

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