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So, How Does a Lithium Ion Battery Work?

There it sat on the counter at the DIY store. A Lithium Ion battery…

I needed one for some repairs I planned around the house and I needed some handy-dandy new power tools. I started to think, “What makes that thing work?”

After spending way too much on tools and materials, I decided a little research was in order. Like all good DIYers, I hit the Internet.

I found out that my brand new drill contains nonmaterial in its lithium-ion battery! I love the idea of nanotechnology, and I loved the idea that my new drill was home to nanotechnology!

Why and how do they use nanotechnology to improve lithium-ion batteries?

I bet that right now you are reading these words on a laptop or cell phone. If so, your device uses a lithium-ion battery for power. Rechargeable batteries are popular, versatile, and you can find them in many different types of devices from computers to cars and yes, even power tools.

So, how does the lithium-ion battery work?

Batteries store and release energy by moving electrons from one “end” of the battery to the other. We use the energy from those moving electrons to supply the power.

These two battery “ends” are the electrodes. One is the anode and the other is the cathode. Generally, the anode is carbon and the cathode is a chemical compound known as a metal oxide. The final battery ingredient is the electrolyte, and it sits in between the two electrodes.

In the case of lithium-ion batteries, the electrolyte is a salt solution that contains lithium ions — hence the name.

When you place the battery in a device, the positively charged lithium ions seek and move towards the cathode. Once these ions bombard the cathode, it increases its positive charge more than the anode, and this attracts negatively charged electrons.

As the electrons start to move toward the cathode, they pass through the device and use the energy of the electrons “flowing” toward the cathode to generate power. Think of it like a water wheel, except instead of a water flow, electrons flow.

Lithium-ion batteries are great because they are rechargeable. When you connect the battery to a charger, the lithium ions move in the opposite direction as before. As they move from the cathode to the anode, the battery power returns for another use.

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