Lithium ion batteries have an outer shell casing that is made of metal. Inside this metal casing are three thin sheets which include a positive electrode, negative electrode, and a separator. The positive electrode is composed of Lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2) and the negative electrode is made of carbon. The separator separates the two as ions flow through. When the battery is charging, ions of lithium move through the electrolyte from the positive electrode to the negative electrode, attaching to the carbon. When the battery discharges, the lithium ions move from the carbon back to the LiCoO2. Because the movement of these ions happens at a high voltage, each cell produces 3.7 volts which is higher than the volts created by a normal AA alkaline cell.
In a lithium-ion battery, the lithium ion is the cation that travels from anode to cathode. Lithium is easily ionized to form Li+ plus one electron. The electrolyte is typically a combination of lithium salts in an organic solvent. Carbon is the most commonly used for the anode and lithium cobalt oxide is the most common cathode material. This combination gives the battery an overall voltage of 3.6 Volt, more than twice that of a standard AA alkaline battery (American Physical Society, 2011).
A lithium-ion flow battery, unlike most other batteries, is lightweight, inexpensive, and can refill rather quickly. The battery contains an anode, a negatively charged electrode, and a cathode, a positively charged electrode. Because they are suspended in a liquid electrolyte, the battery is able to rapidly recharge, similar to the time it takes a fuel tank to refill. The use of energy-dense active materials in a liquid electrolyte can produce ten times more of the charge storage density than practical flow batteries, as they use solid-storage compounds. During discharge, the Li-ion batteries carry the current from the anode (-) to the cathode (+) through a non-aqueous electrolyte. As it charges, the current passes in the reverse direction, traveling from the cathode (+) to the anode (-), becoming embedded in the porous electrode material.
As everyone else pointed out, Lithium-ion batteries work when electrons flow from one terminal to another and are charged when electricity is applied in the reverse direction. This is no different from the way other batteries work. The transfer of electrons in batteries is known as an oxidation reduction reaction. Just like lithium-ion batteries, any other type of battery can be recharged. Even alkaline batteries can be recharged, just not as easily as other types batteries. Don’t try that at home unless you really know what you are doing.
Lithium-ion batteries are favorable for their ability to be recharged many times and have been available to us for a long time. What took them so long to be put into practical use is that they have a tendency to overheat and catch fire when charging, so they need a computer chip to accompany each cell to monitor it while it charges and make sure that this does not happen. However, apparently some people sell counterfeit laptop batteries without the proper computer chip, and those can catch fire.
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