Lithium based batteries are a versatile way of storing energy; they have one of the highest energy density and specific energy (360 to 900 kJ/kg) among rechargeable batteries. As they are the best choice for small and medium-sized portable devices. But charging is still a common problem to face when using them if you don’t want to buy a specific charger.
Li-ion does not need to be fully charged, as is the case with lead acid, nor is it desirable to do so. In fact, it is better not to fully charge, because high voltages stress the battery.
Choosing a lower voltage threshold, or eliminating the saturation charge altogether, prolongs battery life but this reduces the runtime. Since the consumer market promotes maximum runtime, these chargers go for maximum capacity rather than extended service life.
In fact, the lithium batteries are prone to be unstable due to loss of battery capacity with constant charge. They begin to lose capacity immediately after production. In addition, this process is accelerated by constant charging which leads to damaging the battery.
A prototype of LI-SAVE Device (Images source: Indiegogo)
Some of the major multinational companies suggest various guidelines to protect the battery and device. Apple’s advice which is available on the Internet which doesn’t recommend keeping the laptop plugged into the network instead suggests the user for using the laptop while traveling, and charge it from a network in the office.
This will help to maintain the efficiency of the battery. Leaving a laptop plugged in, you will harm it in short term, but if you continue using your laptop this way, six months later you will find out that the capacity of the battery has significantly decreased. If you constantly use the battery, the discharge cycles will run out faster.
HP limits with two weeks of continuous charging, Dell doesn’t see any problems in leaving the laptop connected to the power-line supply all the time while Acer recommends disconnecting the battery when connected to the power-line supply!
To solve these issues, a young team has developed the working prototype of the LI-SAVE technology that helps in extending the life of your battery for laptop, phone or other electronic gadgets. Their campaign is currently live at Indiegogo to further develop the product and to get the better working environment for their team.
According to the creator of the LI-SAVE, it’s a system of automated control of the battery charging, switching the electricity supply when the need arises. It turns off the power supply when the specified upper battery charge point is reached and turns on when the battery charge point reaches lower band. The upper and lower points are specified in the software.
There are four different profiles description in the device. Li Normal (10%-100%), Li Medium (10%-80%), Li Maximum (10%-70%) and Li Street (when you have to go: 50%-90%).
The developers described the charging and discharging cycles in below graph. Each battery can be charged and discharged a limited number of times, such as 100% will last 300-500 cycles of discharge, 90% will last 600-100 BLUE MODE increase in 1 time, 90% will last 900-1500 YELLOW MODE increase in 2 times while 70% will last 1200-2000 GREEN MODE increase in 3 times.
According to the Battery University, the Li-ion charger is a voltage-limiting device that has similarities to the lead acid system. The differences with Li-ion lie in a higher voltage per cell, tighter voltage tolerances and the absence of trickle or float charge at full charge.
While lead-acid offers some flexibility in terms of voltage cut off, manufacturers of Li-ion cells are very strict on the correct setting because Li-ion cannot accept overcharge. The so-called miracle charger that promises to prolong battery life and gain extra capacity with pulses and other gimmicks does not exist. Li-ion is a ‘clean’ system and only takes what it can absorb.
Li-ion does not need to be fully charged as is the case with lead acid, nor is it desirable to do so. In fact, it is better not to fully charge because a high voltage stresses the battery. Choosing a lower voltage threshold or eliminating the saturation charge altogether, prolongs battery life but this reduces the runtime. Chargers for consumer products go for maximum capacity and cannot be adjusted; extended service life is perceived less important.
Consumer and most industrial Li-ion chargers charge the battery fully. They do not offer adjustable end-of-charge voltages that would prolong the service life of Li-ion by lowering the end charge voltage and accepting a shorter runtime. Device manufacturers fear that such an option would complicate the charger. Exceptions are electric vehicles and satellites that avoid a full charge to achieve long service life.
By increasing the time of battery service, we can reduce the cost of replacing them. Also, let’s not forget about the pollution that our batteries are thrown at us. By increasing the life of the battery though twice, at the same time, we will reduce pollution in the same two times and supports our environment. The creators aim to establish a production facility in China.
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