If you’re wondering how lithium batteries are made, you probably already know that they basically run our entire world. These energy-dense little pods pack a punch, and they power everything from our smartphones to our electric vehicles. If we didn’t have lithium batteries, we would spend a lot of time tethered to an outlet. Our cellphones might not even fit in our pockets without lithium batteries. But how are lithium batteries made?
The purpose of this article is to explain the materials, manufacturing, and assembly of batteries. Let’s get started.
Table of contents
- Lithium-Ion Batteries: What Are They?
- Lithium batteries are made from what materials?
- Batteries made of lithium
- Components and electronics
- Casing for batteries
- How Are Lithium Batteries Made?
- Cell Manufacturing
- Battery Pack Assembly
- The Importance of Manufacturing Quality
- Are Lithium Batteries Recyclable?
What Are Lithium-Ion Batteries?
There are many energy-dense and long-lasting rechargeable batteries available. Lithium-ion batteries are some of the most energy-dense and longest-lasting rechargeable batteries. Often, these batteries are the heart of portable and off-grid power systems, including cell phones and home backup power systems.
At Battle Born Batteries, we use LiFePo4 chemistry, which is one of many types of lithium-ion batteries.
What Materials Are Used to Make a Lithium Battery?
Now that we know what lithium-ion batteries are, we can talk about all their different materials and components.
Lithium Battery Cells
In fact, the large lithium batteries found in boats and RVs are made up of many smaller cells, not just one large one. These cells have an anode, cathode, and electrolyte within them, so each can function independently. Manufacturers then connect these cells together to create the voltage required.
Battery power is generated when electrons move from the anode through the electrolyte to the cathode. Anodes are usually made from oxidizing metals like graphite or zinc, while cathodes are usually made from lithium oxide.
On the other hand, the electrolyte is usually some kind of lithium salt solution that has the ability to transport electrons. It’s this lithium salt solution that provides the excess electrons for the battery to work.
Electronics and Components
Essentially, the cells are connected by wires and terminals in a way that allows electrons to flow smoothly through the whole system. This is how they create a larger, more powerful battery pack. Through copper and aluminum terminals and wires, positives (cathodes) are connected to negatives (anodes).
Each battery pack is also equipped with a Battery Management System (BMS). This component is responsible for monitoring everything from the battery’s temperature to its charging and draining.
Lastly, all of these vital parts must be protected. The battery case performs this important role. Typically made of plastic, rubber, or silicon, the tough exterior of the battery shields the cells, internal wires, and battery management system from exposure to outside elements that may interfere with their performance.
How Are Lithium Batteries Made?
To prevent cross-contamination, the anode and cathode of a lithium battery will start out separately on a large assembly line. In order to make the electrodes, the cathode and anode are mixed together with a conductive binder, and then foil is applied (aluminum for the cathode, copper for the anode). The foil is baked onto the electrodes in a special oven.
After this, it’s time to wind the cell together and install the terminals. Manufacturers add vents and other safety measures to the cell and place the electrolyte through a vacuum (it reacts to oxygen and can therefore not be in contact with air). The manufacturer can then charge and test the cell after closing the case.
Battery Pack Assembly
Secondly, let us look at how those cells are welded together to form a battery pack. The manufacturer welds the cells to plates on both the cathode and anode sides and then assembles them into batteries. The manufacturer tests the individual packs and matches them together to make the desired amp-hours (for example, 30 individual cells will create a 100Ah battery).
To ensure safety and reliability, the manufacturer will test the battery just like they tested the individual cells and packs.
The Importance of Manufacturing Quality
As you probably already know, lithium batteries pose significant safety risks. Faulty manufacturing and improper use can increase these risks. A phenomenon known as thermal runaway (essentially, a fire that’s impossible to put out) may occur if the cells aren’t functioning properly.
A poorly made battery will also perform poorly. This is why it’s so important to trust your battery manufacturer. Not only do you want to spend your money wisely, but you also want to know your batteries are safe and reliable.
Battle Born Batteries adheres to strict quality standards and tests our cells and batteries several times during manufacturing. Additionally, we have developed a proprietary battery monitoring system that prevents our batteries from operating under unsafe conditions.
Assembled in Nevada, USA, Battle Born Batteries undergo extensive quality control and testing before they are shipped.
Are Lithium Batteries Recyclable?
Currently, it is possible to recycle used batteries and reuse the lithium from them. However, the recycling processes are relatively new, complex, and expensive.
Further, lithium batteries are relatively new technology, and they are extremely long-lasting. As more batteries need recycling, improving the recycling process is crucial to ensuring a sustainable future for our natural supply. Many of these batteries have not reached their end of life and do not require recycling.