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charging of battery


500 million lithium batteries are in use today. A very big number indeed and the chances that you are one of them are quite high. You could have a laptop, PDA, MP3 or even a cell-phone, all of which more likely than not has a lithium ion or a lithium polymer chemical based battery system. If so then one question that you will have eventually is how many times will I be able to charge the battery before it is effectively dead? Is it 300 times, 400 times, or 500 times? The answer is between 300-500 times.
But what does that nswer mean? As this article will explain the charge cycle is quite complex and involves the replenishment of electrons. In order to get a beginning understanding of what actually is taking place during a charge and discharge cycle we need to understand: what a battery is, how it works, what it produces, and finally what happens when you charge and discharge.
What is a Battery?
As I have written in other articles a battery is a device that converts chemical energy into electrical energy. Batteries have two electrodes, an anode (the positive end) and a cathode (the negative end). In between the battery?s two electrodes runs an electrical current caused primarily from a voltage differential between the anode and cathode. The voltage runs through a chemical called an electrolyte (which can be either be in a liquid, solid, or gel state). This battery consisting of two electrodes is called a voltaic cell. Most batteries today are advance forms of the voltaic cells and have additional technology packed into the battery casing to support the overall system and its connected device. These controls include the connector, fuse, charge and discharge FETs, the cell pack, the sense resistor (RSENSE), the primary and secondary protection ICs, the fuel-gauge IC thermistor, pc board, and the EEPROM or firmware for the fuel-gauge IC.
How Does a Battery Work and What Does It Produce?
We know that the result of a battery converting chemical energy into electrical energy allows us to turn on our laptop, PDA, MP3 or even a cell-phone. But how does the conversion process take place? As stated above the batteries we use today are variable changes of the voltaic pile. In addition to the controls I listed above today?s batteries are made up of plates of reactive chemicals (Li-ion, Li-po, NIMH, NICD) separated by an electrolyte barrier (which can be either be in a liquid, solid, or gel state), and subsequently polarized so all the electrons gather on one side. The system was designed to separate both positive and negative electrons. Then after separation an electron exchange occurs and a current of electron flow moves electrons to and from the anode and cathode. Simultaneously an electrochemical reaction takes place inside the battery to replenish the electrons. The effect is a chemical process that creates electrochemical energy.
Now the electrochemical reaction that is taking place is a chemical change that is necessary in order to create electricity. One factor that needs to be understood is that electricity is the flow of electrons. Specifically, electricity is a property of subatomic particles which couples to electromagnetic fields and causes attractive and repulsive forces between them. This repulsive force between the subatomic particles creates an electric current; the flow of electric charge transports energy from one atom to another. This electrical current is measured in amperes, where 1 ampere is the flow of 62,000,000,000,000,000,000 electrons per second!
Electricity therefore is a created energy source. All electricity in fact is a created source made or converted from coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear power, wind, heat, sun, water, biomass and or other chemicals. In batteries today electricity is created by two chemicals in a solution for example: {a Solution of Lithium hexaflourophosphate (LiPF6) – a mixture of Organic Solvents: [Ethylene Carbonate (EC) + DiEthyl Carbonate (DMC) + DiEthyl Carbonate (DEC) + Ethyl Acetate (EA)]}
Charging and Discharging Your Battery
Charge cycling a battery means to completely discharge (or drain) a battery?s created electricity to where there is a charge of less than a 1% capacity remaining. At this point the power to the device will cease and your device will power off. Then after the power is off you recharge the battery to 100% capacity using a power adapter either from a wall socket for example. Regardless of how you charge the battery that process of discharging and charging represents one complete charge cycle.
I noted above that an electrochemicl reaction takes place inside the battery to replenish the electrons. The effect is a chemical process that creates electrical energy (electrochemical energy). Lithium is used, amongst other chemicals, as a battery anode material due to its high electrochemical potential. In fact the energy of some lithium-based cells can be five times greater than an equivalent-sized lead-acid cell and three times greater than alkaline batteries. Lithium cells often have a starting voltage of 3.0 V. This means that batteries can be lighter in weight, have lower per-use costs, and have higher and more stable voltage profiles.
Charging lithium can be thought of as the introduction of ions or movement of chemistry. To move the lithium chemistry (lithium-ion, lithium polymer, lithium iron phosphate, etc) you have to have a minimum voltage applied to the lithium. Most battery cells are charged to 4.2 volts with relative safe workings at about 3.8 volts. Anything less than 3.3 volts will not be enough to charge or move the chemistry. One thing to note here is that volts are an algorithmic measurement of current. So in a sense to create current through your battery you have to introduce current into your battery?s lithium .
Introducing current into your lithium is called intercalation. Intercalation is the joining of a molecule (or molecule group) between two other molecules (or groups). When it comes to charging your battery you are in effect pushing ions in and out of solid lithium compounds. These compounds have minuscule spaces between the crystallized planes for small ions, such as lithium, to insert themselves from a force of current. In effect ionizing the lithium loads the crystal planes to the point where they are forced into a current flow. The current flow is then channeled back and forth from anode to cathode and thereby creating an electrical flow to power on your device. Again this can done 300-500 times. In my next article we will look at why batteries have limited charge cycles.

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