How does an “industrial-grade” lithium-ion battery stack up to the one in your phone or your laptop?

In a live webinar this month titled The Latest Technologies for Energy Harvesting, a Tech Briefs reader asked Sol Jacobs, VP and GM of Tadiran Batteries:

“What are the performance differences between consumer-grade and industrial-grade lithium-ion batteries at extremely cold temperatures?”

Read Jacobs’ edited response below.

Sol Jacobs, VP and GM, Tadiran Batteries

Sol Jacobs: We have to understand that commercial lithium-ion cells were made to power consumer devices such as laptops and cellphones that would never see anything colder than 10 degrees basically. That’s just what they’re designed to do. The design gives them the highest energy density necessary, but lowers the amount of cycles you can have before the battery starts to die. It wasn’t made to work in very cold temperatures.

An industrial lithium-ion cell has to work at the temperature that the device sees, which is -40 to +85 degrees. They have to be made for remote locations and used outdoors. There’s no point to bringing a battery that won’t be able to discharge or charge when you need it to.

Some [commercial-grade batteries] may be able to discharge at a lower temperature, but they can’t recharge until the area warms up, which might not happen for awhile. The difference [between consumer-grade and industrial-grade batteries] is both in the mechanical way the battery is made and the constituents of the electrolytes. Commercial batteries, for example, don’t use hermetic seals, because price is most important.

And for the device that are using consumer cells — the characteristics are perfect. They work as long as they’re necessary. No one keeps a laptop or a solar cell longer than about three or four years, so they don’t have to last that long, and they don’t have to work at wider temperature ranges. Ours are made for an industrial setting.

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