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How to prolong lithium-based batteries

Battery research is focusing heavily on lithium chemistries, so much so that one could presume that all portable devices will be powered with lithium-ion batteries in the
future. In many ways, lithium-ion is superior to nickel and lead-based chemistries and the applications for lithium-ion batteries are growing as a result.

Lithium-ion has not yet fully matured and is being improved continuously. New metal and chemical combinations are being tried every six months to increase energy
density and prolong service life. The improvements in longevity after each change will not be known for a few years.

A lithium-ion battery provides 300-500 discharge/charge cycles. The battery prefers a partial rather than a full discharge. Frequent full discharges should be avoided
when possible. Instead, charge the battery more often or use a larger battery. There is no concern of memory when applying unscheduled charges.

Although lithium-ion is memory-free in terms of performance deterioration, batteries with fuel gauges exhibit what engineers refer to as "digital memory". Here is the
reason: Short discharges with subsequent recharges do not provide the periodic calibration needed to synchronize the fuel gauge with the battery's state-of-charge. A
deliberate full discharge and recharge every 30 charges corrects this problem. Letting the battery run down to the cut-off point in the equipment will do this. If ignored,
the fuel gauge will become increasingly less accurate. (Read more in 'Choosing the right battery for portable computing', Part Two.)

Aging of lithium-ion is an issue that is often ignored. A lithium-ion battery in use typically lasts between 2-3 years. The capacity loss manifests itself in increased internal
resistance caused by oxidation. Eventually, the cell resistance reaches a point where the pack can no longer deliver the stored energy although the battery may still have
ample charge. For this reason, an aged battery can be kept longer in applications that draw low current as opposed to a function that demands heavy loads. Increasing
internal resistance with cycle life and age is typical for cobalt-based lithium-ion, a system that is used for cell phones, cameras and laptops because of high energy
density. The lower energy dense manganese-based lithium-ion, also known as spinel, maintains the internal resistance through its life but loses capacity due to chemical
decompositions. Spinel is primarily used for power tools.

The speed by which lithium-ion ages is governed by temperature and state-of-charge. Figure 1 illustrates the capacity loss as a function of these two parameters.

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How to prolong lithium-based batteries http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries

Figure 1: Permanent capacity loss of lithium-ion as a function of temperature and charge level. High charge levels and elevated temperatures hasten permanent
capacity loss. Improvements in chemistry have increased the storage performance of lithium-ion batteries.

The mentioning of limited service life on lithium-ion has caused concern in the battery industry and I will need to add some clarifications. Let me explain:

If someone asks how long we humans live, we would soon find out that the longevity varies according to life style and living conditions that exist in different countries.
Similar conditions exist with the batteries, lithium-ion in particular. Since BatteryUniversity bases its information on the feedback from users as opposed to scientific
information derived from a research lab, longevity results may differ from manufacturer' specifications. Let's briefly look at the various living conditions of the lithium-ion
battery.

The worst condition is keeping a fully charged battery at elevated temperatures, which is the case with running laptop batteries. If used on main power, the battery inside
a laptop will only last for 12-18 months. I must hasten to explain that the pack does not die suddenly but begins with reduced run-times.

The voltage level to which the cells are charged also plays an important role to longevity. For safety reasons, most lithium-ion cannot exceed 4.20 volts per cell. While a
higher voltage boosts capacity, the disadvantage is lower cycle life. Figure 2 shows the cycle life as a function of charge voltage.

Figure 2: Effects on cycle life at different float charge


levels
(Choi et al., 2002)
Higher charge voltages boost capacity but lower cycle life.

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How to prolong lithium-based batteries http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries

There are no remedies to restore lithium-ion once worn out. A momentary improvement in performance is noticeable when heating up the battery. This lowers the internal
resistance momentarily but the condition reverts back to its former state when the temperature drops. Cold temperature will increase the internal resistance.

If possible, store the battery in a cool place at about a 40% state-of-charge. Some reserve charge is needed to keep the battery and its protection circuit operational
during prolonged storage. Avoid keeping the battery at full charge and high temperature. This is the case when placing a cell phone or spare battery in a hot car. Running
a laptop computer on the mains has a similar temperature problem. While the battery is kept fully charged, the inside temperature during operation rises to 45°C
(113°F).

Removing the battery from the laptop when running on fixed power protects the battery from heat. With the concern of the battery overheating and causing fire, a
spokesperson for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advises to eject the battery of affected laptops and to run the machines on a power cord. It should be
noted that on a power outage, unsaved works will be lost. The question is often asked, should the laptop be disconnected from the main when not in use? Under normal
circumstances, it should not matter with lithium-ion. Once the battery is fully charged, no further charge is applied. However, there is always the concern is malfunction of
the AC adapter, the laptop or the battery.

A large number of lithium-ion batteries for cell phones are being discarded under the warranty return policy. Some failed batteries are sent to service centers or the
manufacturer, where they are refurbished. Studies show that 80%-90% of the returned batteries can be repaired and returned to service.

Some lithium-ion batteries fail due to excessive low discharge. If discharged below 2.5 volts per cell, the internal safety circuit opens and the battery appears dead. A
charge with the original charger is no longer possible. Some battery analyzers (Cadex) feature a boost function that reactivates the protection circuit of a failed battery
and enables a recharge. However, if the cell voltage has fallen below 1.5V/cell and has remained in that state for a few months, a recharge should be avoided because
of safety concerns. To prevent failure, never store the battery fully discharged. Apply some charge before storage, and then charge fully before use.

All personal computers (and some other electronic devices) contain a battery for memory back up. This battery is commonly a small non-rechargeable lithium cell, which
provides a small current when the device is turned off. The PC uses the battery to retain certain information when the power is off. These are the BIOS settings, current
date and time, as well as resource assignment for Plug and Play systems. Storage does shorten the service life of the backup battery to a few years. Some say 1-2
years. By keeping the computer connected to the main, albeit turned off, a battery on the PC motherboards should be good for 5-7 years. A PC should give the
advanced warning when battery gets low. A dead back-up battery will wipe out the volatile memory and erase certain settings. After battery is replaced, the PC should
again be operational.

Longevity of high-power lithium-ion

Generally speaking, batteries live longer if treated in a gentle manner. High charge voltages, excessive charge rate and extreme load conditions will have a negative
effect and shorten the battery life. This also applies to high current rate lithium-ion batteries.

Not only is it better to charge lithium-ion battery at a slower charge rate, high discharge rates also contribute the extra wear and tear. Figure 3 shows the cycle life as a
function of charge and discharge rates. Observe the good laboratory performance if the battery is charged and discharged at 1C. (A 0.5C charge and discharge would
further improve this rating.)

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Figure 3: Longevity of lithium-ion as a function of charge and discharge rates.


A moderate charge and discharge puts less stress on the battery, resulting in a longer cycle life.

Battery experts agree that the life of lithium-ion depends on other factors than charge and discharge rates. Even though incremental improvements can be achieved with
careful use of the battery, our environment and the services required are not always conducive to achieve optimal battery life. The longevity of a battery is often a direct
result of the environmental stresses applied.
Simple Guidelines

Avoid frequent full discharges because this puts additional strain on the battery. Several partial discharges with frequent recharges are better for lithium-ion than
one deep one. Recharging a partially charged lithium-ion does not cause harm because there is no memory. (In this respect, lithium-ion differs from nickel-based
batteries.) Short battery life in a laptop is mainly cause by heat rather than charge / discharge patterns.

Batteries with fuel gauge (laptops) should be calibrated by applying a deliberate full discharge once every 30 charges. Running the pack down in the equipment
does this. If ignored, the fuel gauge will become increasingly less accurate and in some cases cut off the device prematurely.

Keep the lithium-ion battery cool. Avoid a hot car. For prolonged storage, keep the battery at a 40% charge level.

Consider removing the battery from a laptop when running on fixed power. (Some laptop manufacturers are concerned about dust and moisture accumulating
inside the battery casing.)

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How to prolong lithium-based batteries http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries

Avoid purchasing spare lithium-ion batteries for later use. Observe manufacturing dates. Do not buy old stock, even if sold at clearance prices.

If you have a spare lithium-ion battery, use one to the fullest and keep the other cool by placing it in the refrigerator. Do not freeze the battery. For best results,
store the battery at 40% state-of-charge.

Comments
On October 21, 2010 at 10:38am

John Vanderkooy wrote:

I am grateful to Cadex Electronics for the whole website explaining batteries. It is really helpful to restore useful units, assess questionable ones, and the explanations are at a “university” level. Thanks.

On October 26, 2010 at 5:29pm

pamela knowler wrote:

How long do I charge a new laptop battery before use? The battery arrived partially charged and information suggests I charge it fully before using. I can’t seem to find any information about how long to
charge itH...it’s a lithium ion 9 hour (lenovo) laptop battery.

thanks

On October 28, 2010 at 8:48am

Dennis Lackey wrote:

10-28-10, I sell cell phones and other devices that use lithium batteries and I have been misinforming my customers inregardes to charging requirements of their batteries. ireally found the information reall
useful. Thanks, Dennis

On October 28, 2010 at 3:59pm

Taurug Baca wrote:

What is 1C? What is a C?

On November 6, 2010 at 2:28am

Fred B wrote:

Taurug Baca wrote: What is 1C? What is a C?

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How to prolong lithium-based batteries http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries

To quote http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battery_charger:
“Charge rate is often denoted as C or C-rate and signifies a charge or discharge rate equal to the capacity of a battery in one hour. For a 1.6Ah battery, C = 1.6A. A charge rate of C/2 = 0.8A would
need two hours ... to fully charge the battery from an empty state, if supported by the battery. This also assumes that the battery is 100% efficient at absorbing the charge.”

On November 13, 2010 at 3:38pm

James wrote:

What about overcharging? What are the effects of leaving a Lithium-ion battery charging when at full capacity?

On November 13, 2010 at 3:41pm

James wrote:

Also, is there an ideal range to charge/discharge the battery in e.g. 40%-70%, ensuring a partial discharge?

On November 16, 2010 at 6:01pm

Carlos Jordan wrote:

I really appreciate your technical info on Lithium-ion batteries. I recently purchased a wonderful Panasonic Camcorder, which uses such a battery, and your advice not to fully discarge, before
re-charging is so very helpful, as I thought according to the manual, it was necessary to discharge fully.

As James asked above, what is the ideal partial discharge, before charging again?

Thanking you kindly for your help.

On November 23, 2010 at 2:50pm

nygus wrote:

Sadly, macbooks (and other laptops) run much slower on fixed power (even 4x slower), when battery is removedH so battery dies very quickly. I think they use battery as capacitor to support short
demands of higher power.

On November 23, 2010 at 7:03pm

David wrote:

If it is better to have the battery charged to 40% and then stored while on main power, why do the laptop manufacturers not program the BIOS to have an option to charge to 40% and stop? I am always on
fixed power, the problem with removing the battery at 40% is that I would be vulnerable to power outages. With the battery still inside the laptop charged to 40% I would be saving my battery, saving power
and saving my data in the event of a main-power failure. Does anyone know if there is a software out there which could charge to 40% and stop? If so, please let me know.

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How to prolong lithium-based batteries http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries

On November 24, 2010 at 11:21am

Patrick Woo wrote:

How frequent should I apply a full discharge to recalibrate the fuel guage?
Every 30 charges sound very frequent to me if your laptop alternate between battery power and fixed power many times a days.

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