This article is about disposable lithium batteries. It is not to be confused with Lithium-ion battery.
Disposable lithium batteries are contrasted with lithium-ion and lithium-polymer, which are rechargeable batteries, where ions move between the anode and the cathode, using an intercalated lithium compound as the cathode material and without using lithium metal as the anode material.They stand apart from other batteries in their high charge density (long life) and high cost per unit. Depending on the design and chemical compounds used, lithium cells can produce voltages from 1.5 V (comparable to a zinc–carbon or alkaline battery) to about 3.7 V.
The term "lithium battery" refers to a family of different lithium-metal chemistries, comprising many types of cathodes and electrolytes but all with metallic lithium as the anode. The battery requires from 0.15 to 0.3 kg of lithium per kWh.
Another type of lithium cell having a large energy density is the lithium-thionyl chloride cell. Invented by Adam Heller in 1973, Lithium-thionyl chloride batteries are generally not sold to the consumer market, and find more use in commercial/industrial applications, or are installed into devices where the consumer does not replace them. This chemistry isn't rechargeable. The cell contains a liquid mixture of thionyl chloride (SOCl2) and lithium tetrachloroaluminate (LiAlClThe most common type of lithium cell used in consumer applications uses metallic lithium as anode and manganese dioxide as cathode, with a salt of lithium dissolved in an organic solvent. which act as the cathode and electrolyte, respectively. A porous carbon material serves as a cathode current collector which receives electrons from the external circuit. Lithium-thionyl chloride batteries are well suited to extremely low-current applications where long life is necessary, such as wireless alarm systems.
Small lithium batteries are very commonly used in small, portable electronic devices, such as PDAs, watches, camcorders, digital cameras, thermometers, calculators, personal computer BIOS (firmware), communication equipment and remote car locks. They are available in many shapes and sizes, with a common variety being the 3 volt "coin" type manganese variety, typically 20 mm in diameter and 1.6–4 mm thick.
The heavy electrical demands of many of these devices make lithium batteries a particularly attractive option. In particular, lithium batteries can easily support the brief, heavy current demands of devices such as digital cameras, and they maintain a higher voltage for a longer period than alkaline cells.