With the growth of popular portable electronic devices in the past decades, rechargeable batteries have become a necessary component to everyday devices. Of the many types of rechargeable batteries, the use of lithium-ion batteries is particularly widespread as they provide more energy by weight than other types of rechargeable batteries. Common items that use lithium-ion include: cell phones, laptops, power tools, and electric vehicles.
While lithium-ion batteries have many advantages, they are not a perfect technology. Lithium-ion batteries typically last 2-3 years, and the battery starts to degrade once it is manufactured, regardless of whether or not it has been used yet. Lithium-ion batteries are also temperature sensitive, and prolonged exposure to high temperatures will shorten the battery life.
Lithium is a highly reactive element, and in rare cases (2-3 cases per million) battery packs have been known to fail, resulting in the pack bursting into flames. All lithium-ion batteries have a flammable electrolyte and pressurized contents which requires an internal computer in the battery pack to manage the battery to prevent a hazardous outcome, should the battery encounter failing conditions. Still, lithium ion batteries have many benefits over other types of batteries, which has resulted in their widespread use.
Lithium-ion batteries hold their charge much better than older battery types, such as nickel-metal hydride batteries. This makes their application in portable electronics and electric car batteries particularly valuable. Lithium-ion batteries also lack a “memory effect” and can be recharged before the battery has been completely discharged. The contents of lithium-ion batteries are also less toxic than most other battery types, which makes them easier to recycle, and less harmful to the environment. Still, recycling a lithium ion battery prevents the contamination of up to 60,000 liters of water (the equivalent of 3 Olympic pools!).
To extend the life of your lithium-ion battery, there are a few things you can do:
– Don’t let the battery completely discharge. It will require a specialized charger to re-establish the battery capacity.
GreenCitizen can recycle all rechargeable battery types for free. For single-use batteries, please check our locations page to find a nearby drop off location.