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Old Jul 14, 2007, 1:22 AM   #1
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'Li-ion' is not a 'lithium' battery

It's a shame that the highly reactive and also small and mobile lithium atom has found itself doing two different jobs in battery systems, causing enormous confusion.

This confusion has been compounded by disposable lithium batteries being economically and environmentally substituted with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries in many applications, cameras being the prime example. It's further compounded by disposable lithium CR-V3 batteries being generally interchangeable with 'rechargeable CR-V3' batteries which are based on lithium-ion chemistry.

[Rechargeable lithium batteries did exist, but proved a bit dangerous.]

The terminological problem is that lithium primary, disposable batteries work by oxidising lithium metal to lithium ions, while.....

...rechargeable lithium-ion batteries work by oxidising cobalt atoms, usually, I gather, embeddedas complex ions in a lithium salt.They are recharged by reducing (chemical opposite of oxidising) the cobalt back again. The lithium atoms do their work by carrying the current as lithium ions though the cell in one direction on charge, and back again on recharge, not by being oxidised from metal to a waste salt, as in primary throwaway cells. They're good at this because they're small and mobile.

In primary throwaways, they're good at it because there's a lot of energy released when they are oxidised. Effectively, they burn fiercely but silently to generate electricity.

In rechargeables,they transportcharge from one store to another without changing state a great deal.



1. All this is very well explained in Wikipaedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li-ion_battery, in the simplest description I have seen.

2. There'severything most of us need to knowabout rechargeable batteries on Isidor Buchmann's excellent website www.batteryuniversity.com, and in his book, contained on that site.


Need for renaming

So it would be a lot better if primary lithium batteries continued to be called lithium batteries....;

...and lithium-ion batteries were called cobalt batteries (or whatever their chemistry is or may become as the technologydevelops).

It would also be a good idea if the awful name CR-V3 were changed, and certainly not used for two types of battery chemistry, one rechargeable and one not, in ashape that fits in a 2xAA hole that's same shape shape as a proprietary battery (Kodak KLIC-8000) with its contacts in different places. Horrifically, thereare now both 2-contact and 3-contact variants on 'rechargeable CR-V3', and the built-in safety measures inside the cases probably vary from one model to another.

It would be nice if the manufacturers could get their act together before accidents start happening to cameras & chargers and maybe to people.

Go carefully!

Alan T
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