Lithium batteries are very popular these days. They can be found in many portable electronic devices that we use in our daily lives. For instance, there is a good chance that your smartphone and your laptop is powered by a lithium battery. The same thing goes for the flashlight – a very handy tool that many use as an important source of light in many situations. Apart from electrifying small portable devices, these batteries are also used in electric cars and sometimes even homes. But what exactly makes them a popular source of power? Let’s break it down.
What Makes Them Popular?
Lithium batteries, including both lithium-hydride and lithium-ion batteries have become very popular because of their low weight – lithium is the lightest of all metals. The lighter the battery, the easier it is for the device to be carried around.
Lithium is also a highly reactive element. What this means is that a lot of energy can be stored in its atomic bonds. This can result in a very high energy density or a lot of power packed into a very small space.
Next, lithium batteries are rechargeable, meaning you can re-use them multiple times, unlike the single-use, primary batteries. Therefore when using rechargeable flashlights you don’t have to worry about saving the battery or running out of light in the middle of an important situation. All you need to do is simply plug your flashlight into an electronic outlet and in a very short time, you can use the torch again. Many rechargeable flashlights often come with a charging cable that is provided in the package for faster charging and they also have an indicator showing when it’s time to charge the batteries. Thanks to the advances in battery efficiency (but also in the LED technology), everyday use items are moving forwards. Today’s modern rechargeable flashlights are smaller, lighter and brighter than they were a few years ago.
Torches that can be recharged with a cable can also save on the cost of batteries in the long term. Since lithium batteries can be used multiple times, you can save money. They are a more economical option and also reduce environmental waste.
How Long Do Lithium Ion Rechargeable Batteries Last?
Rechargeable batteries can be used multiple times but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a finite lifespan. In general, most rechargeable lithium batteries can last up to ten years. That’s because the cycle of charging and discharging can be repeated only a certain number of times. Usually, they can handle hundreds of charge/discharge cycles. But with time, lithium batteries will start losing power faster and it will take longer for them to recharge.
In order to extend the battery’s life, there are some things you can do. You need to take care of your device properly and adopt good charging habits. For instance, instead of fully recharging your phone or your flashlight, you should do shorter discharges and recharges. That’s because they put less stress on the battery, therefore making it last longer. For instance, it is often recommended for smartphones that use lithium batteries to be charged when they reach 10 – 20% of their charge. Also, once the battery is filled all the way up, you shouldn’t leave the device plugged in.
How Do I Dispose of Rechargeable Batteries?
Although lithium batteries can be charged hundreds of times, eventually they will die. When so, you want to make sure to properly dispose of them. As rechargeable batteries become increasingly common, so does the risk of potential fires. That’s because lithium batteries could produce sparks that may start a fire in the landfills and waste facilities. Moreover, the hazardous materials that these contain like lead, cadmium, and mercury, can pollute the environment when thrown out anywhere. Well, I believe that this is something no one would want to see happening. Therefore you should never put old batteries in the recycling bin or in your waste bin. Luckily, in Australia, there are many places that offer a free battery recycling service (Aldi supermarkets, Battery World retail outlets and Officeworks are just some of them).
As already mentioned, there are many advantages of lithium batteries. However, there is always the option for improvement. Probably the next-generation of rechargeable batteries will be able to provide higher energy density, better capacity, and the usage of cheaper, safer, and more environmentally benign materials. In the future, we will probably see the lithium ions being replaced by more abundant and environmentally friendly alkali metal or multivalent ions.