Why do lithium-ion batteries lose their ability to maintain charge after many cycles of charging?

The batteries, whether of your phones or computers, lose their effectiveness over time. Especially lithium batteries have this terrible problem of losing the potential and capacity over time; they may even die altogether. In new batteries, ions move openly between positive and negative electrodes. But after a while, the electrodes lose their potential, and the overall capacity of the battery gets reduced. 

Every time you charge a good battery, you cut a few seconds off its maximum life. A fine Lithium battery, after 1000 charge cycles, loses about 20 percent of its overall battery health. Heat and inconsistent charging accelerate this process.

Therefore, before knowing what makes the battery lose its capacity and ability to charge, the first thing you need to understand is how lithium batteries work? The lithium batteries work by moving electrons/ions between positive and negative electrodes. And this is a continuous process, repeated over and over again. The problem occurs due to the undesirable chemical reaction that happens in lithium batteries, making them lose their ability to charge. 

The electrodes of lithium batteries contain nickel in their composition. The inside of the batteries is not smooth, and there are tiny gaps and cracks where the accumulation occurs. When the ions start flowing through the positive and negative electrodes, they come in contact with the nickel. Due to the reaction with nickel, some of the ions get trapped, which produces a crystal-like substance. In addition to that, it also causes electrodes to swell up. Repeated swelling and shrinking eventually cause cracking and fractures in the electrode, degrading it. So the more you charge, the more crystals are formed, which makes lithium batteries lose their potential and effectiveness to charge.

The other main effect is the chemical reaction in the electrolyte. During charging, little amounts of electrolyte material undergo unwanted chemical reactions with the electrode chemicals. Eventually, the electrolyte gets polluted with all the byproducts of these reactions degrading it.

What Can You Do To Maximize The Battery Life?

Now, after knowing some possible reasons why the battery loses its capacity to maintain charge and work effectively, the next question that comes in our mind is how we can increase the life of our batteries. There are a few precautions, tips, and tricks that you can apply that will increase the charging capacity and lifespan of your battery.

Always go for leading additive batteries. Most of the lithium batteries nowadays come with additives. These additives are additional chemicals found in the battery’s electrolyte. They reduce the resistance of ions transfer. Additives also reduce the production of crystal-like substance and films. Moreover, they improve the performance of the battery at high temperatures as well.

High or low, both temperatures are unsuitable for your battery’s health. Batteries work best at room temperature. Extreme high or low temperatures result in a 40-50% reduction in the efficacy of a battery, damaging the overall battery’s ability to maintain charge. Charging lithium batteries in freezing temperatures can put it at risk of failure. The optimal temperature to charge lithium batteries is between 5 and 45°C.

Protect your battery from any physical damage. A damaged battery can result in several things; the punctured film between electrodes and electrolytes can cause a fire hazard. Furthermore, toxic fluid can start leaking. So if your battery gets damaged, never charge it as it can be perilous. Try to protect your batteries from scratching, hitting, or any other physical damage.

Some Precautions:

  • Don’t pull apart, crush, or rupture the battery.
  • Always keep the battery out of the reach of children.
  • Try to keep the battery temperature below 60°C for optimal performance.
  • Keep the battery away from water or fire.
  • Avoid using damaged batteries. Always use good working batteries.