|Lithium polymer batteries are rechargeable lithium batteries that use polymer electrolytes in contrast to liquid electrolytes that are present in other types of lithium batteries. Higher specific energy is provided by these batteries. They are usually used in those applications in which weight is an integral feature. Mobile devices and radio controlled aircrafts are some examples.
Lithium ion polymer battery life and death
These batteries are quite expensive. Therefore, it becomes all the more vital to know more about them to ensure that you can continue to use them for a longer duration.
The chemistry of these batteries is such that partial discharge is preferred compared to deep discharge. Thus, it is advisable to make sure that the battery is not taken down all the way to zero. Considering that these batteries do not have any memory, no harm is incurred on the battery pack owing to partial discharge. However, if the voltage of the cell drops below a specific level, the battery is damaged.
Another important factor to keep in mind is that these batteries age and last for merely a couple of years even if left unused. Therefore, while purchasing the batteries, you need to pay attention to their manufacturing date.
Lithium ion polymer batteries also carry a risk of exploding. In case the battery gets a tad bit too hot, the electrolyte can get ignited, causing a fire. Usually it is an internal shot in the battery which is responsible for such fires. A separator sheet keeps the negative and positive electrodes apart in a lithium battery. If this sheet gets punctured due to any reason, the electrodes touch which can then lead to heating up of the battery within a short span.
How do you prolong lithium ion polymer battery life?
The longevity of these batteries is affected by a variety of factors. The thing is battery packs seldom die suddenly. Their capacity fades and there is a gradual decrease in their runtime.
Battery life is prolonged by lower charge voltages. The battery of a laptop can be prolonged by lowering the charge voltage when you connect it to the AC grid.
If you want to make sure that your lithium ion polymer battery lasts for a long time, there are certain things that you need to take care of.
For one thing, do not use charge or discharge a damaged battery. Make sure that you follow the disposal protocols while getting rid of the batteries which have been damaged. It is a grave mistake to buy used polymer batteries. This is because you cannot be sure of the type of use the battery was put to by the previous owner. There is no such thing as an as good as new polymer battery. This is a scam that you need to avoid at all costs.
Make sure that you use a proper lithium ion polymer battery charger or discharger for your battery. It is vital to make sure that all the cells in the battery have the same voltage maintained at all times. If there is deviation of voltage across the cells, the battery can become dangerous owing to the instability.
It is advisable to use fire proof safety bag for charging, discharging or storing the batteries. Although rare, fire incidents can happen owing to these batteries which can be quite damaging. An internal short circuit is all it would take for things to go out of hand. The risk of such an incident happening is more when the battery is fully charged, overcharged or being discharged. However, a bit of risk is always there. Another important thing that you should ensure is that the container is never filled to capacity with batteries. Following the recommendations of the manufacturer of the container can be a better option since this can save you from a lot of trouble.
It is an error to leave the batteries unattended while charging. You need to be around to notice that the battery has started getting puffy or has caught fire. This will ensure that you notice the problem at the earliest and take prompt measures to deal with it. Walking away can make things worse and the situation can quickly get out of hands.
It is not advisable to use travel cases to store these batteries for a long duration. These cases have foam and plastic which can spread the fire caused by batteries. Thus, a fire proof container is always a better option if you want to store lithium-ion polymer batteries.
How safe are lithium ion polymer battery?
On the whole, these batteries are quite safe and failures related to heat are quite rare. Manufacturers make sure that the batteries are optimally safe and reliable for most of the time.
However, this does not imply that you throw caution to the wind. You need to keep in mind that at the end of the batteries can have short circuits due to any reason and thus one need to be careful. A faulty charger can destroy the protection of the circuit of the battery. The user might not even realize how dangerous the battery has become.
Another problem is that of cold temperature during charging. Keep in mind that these batteries cannot be charged below the temperature of 0 degrees. Although it might appear that the pack is charging normally, plating occurs on the metallic lithium. This plating is permanent and irreversible. The safety of the pack can be seriously compromised owing to this.
All in all, it is up to you to make sure that use the lithium polymer batteries in a proper manner. As long as you do so, there is no reason for you to worry.