Lithium Battery Working Principle: Understanding How It Works

The earliest use of the word “battery” was done back in 1749. American scientist Benjamin Franklin used the term when he was conducting his experiments with electricity.

We have seen different kinds of batteries emerge as the years have went on. One of the most widely used batteries is the lead-acid battery. It’s being used in different applications even today.

Lithium Battery Working Principle
Lithium Battery Working Principle

But everyone has started switching over to lithium batteries. That’s because lithium batteries are better in many aspects. Throughout the course of this article, we’re going to go over the lithium battery working principle to see how it works.

What Exactly Is a Lithium Battery?

Lithium batteries are rechargeable batteries that use lithium particles to convert chemical energy into electrical energy. The chemical reaction is so efficient that it’s now being used in all kinds of electrical devices.

Since it’s lighter and outputs a higher density of energy, it’s now the go-to energy source for electrical devices. Let’s see how the batteries are made before we move on to the working principle.

A Breakdown of the Lithium Battery

In order for you to understand the lithium battery working principle, you will first need to know how a battery is made. When you’ve seen and understood how that’s done, it will help you understand how the entire process works easily.

A Breakdown of the Lithium Battery
A Breakdown of the Lithium Battery

There are 5 main components of any lithium battery. These are:

  1. Anode: Negative terminal of the battery.
  2. Cathode Positive terminal of the battery.
  3. Separator: Acts as a barrier between the positively and negatively charged particles.
  4. Electrolyte: The chemical medium that allows for the flow of the positive and negatively charged lithium ions.
  5. Current Collectors (Positive and Negative): Acts as a reservoir for the current which can be used later on.

Charging and Discharging of a Battery

The charging and discharging concept of a battery will be needed in order to understand the lithium battery working principle. These two phases are crucial if we want to understand the checmical process behind the conversion of chemical energy to electrical.


During discharging of a battery, the anode releases lithium ions to the cathode. What this does is generate a flow of electrons that goes from one direction to the other. Discharging keeps taking place all the time and goes on till all the energy in the battery is drained.


Charging is essentially the opposite of discharging. Instead of the anode releasing the lithium ions, the cathode begins the process. This time around, the anode acts as the receiver for all of the lithium ions.

The Principle Behind the Lithium Battery

We need to stop and think for a moment about the origin of the principle for the lithium battery. It is based on a simple principle. It’s known as the rocking chair principle. And the reaction that takes place for this process is called the rocking chair principle.

The Principle Behind the Lithium Battery
The Principle Behind the Lithium Battery

In a typical lithium battery, you will have multiple cells connected together. When the reaction starts, the ions start moving. And the direction for that is from the cathode to the anode. That means it flows from positive to negative. And during discharging, the ions return to their starting points.

The reason the principle is called the rocking chair principle should be clear to you by now. This constant repetition of the back-and-forth flow of ions is what causes the conversion of energy. Hence it’s named the rocking chair principle.

The Lithium Battery Working Principle in Action

As we’ve seen the rocking chair principle and the theory behind it, it’s time to move on the practical explanation of the lithium battery working principle.

There are two terminals in a lithium battery just like in any other one. And this is made of the two electrodes. To construct the cathode, a lithium compound is used. As for the anode, that is made using a graphite compound.

During the charging state i.e. when the battery is plugged in, the flow   of ions begin. And it  goes from cathode to the anode. The direction of the flow is from positive to negative.

And during the discharging phase, the movement is from anode to cathode, so from negative to positive.

If a load is attached to the battery during this given time, electrical energy will start to flow. That is how the lithium battery working principle takes place practically.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Lithium Batteries

Now that we understand how the lithium battery working principle takes place, it’s time to check out the advantages of using a lithium battery. And it doesn’t come without some disadvantages either.

Advantages of Lithium Batteries

  1. A low discharge rate means a longer battery life.
  2. High energy density compared to other batteries.
  3. They have a larger lifespan than other alternatives.
  4. Better charging rate for lithium batteries
  5. Lithium batteries are suitable for harsh working conditions making them incredibly versatile.
  6. Lithium batteries can output a higher rate of energy while having a small form factor.
  7. You don’t need to perform too much maintenance on lithium batteries.

Disadvantages of Lithium Batteries

  1. The batteries can degrade over time.
  2. Any physical damage to the battery or the electro cells can be the cause of a fire hazard.
  3. The cost of production for a lithium battery can be pretty expensive.

Application of Lithium Batteries

As we now know a lot about the lithium battery working principle by now, let’s see some examples of the application and usage of lithium batteries. Without wasting any time let’s see what these applications are.

Portable Electrical Devices

Electrical devices such as phones, and laptops, need a power source that’s lightweight and can output enough power to run the device properly. The characteristics of lithium batteries make them perfect for the job.

Since lithium batteries have a high charging rate, they can be recharged when they run out of power without much hassle.

Power Packs

When you’re on the road and you need a quick charge for your mobile phone or tablet, you turn to a power pack for recharging. But did you know that power packs use lithium batteries as their source of power?

We saw that one of the advantages of a lithium battery is that it’s lightweight and packs a punch. This is why they are perfect if you want to use them as a portable power source.

Lithium battery Power Packs
Lithium battery Power Packs

Electric Vehicles

In order for the world to approach zero-emission, one of the important stepping stones is going to be electric vehicles. And the preferred power source that’s used in these vehicles is the lithium battery.

Since lithium battery can output power for much longer on a single charge, it is the ideal choice for use in electric vehicles.


A UPS is great when you need backup power in case of a power outage. Lithium batteries are used to store the energy that you’re going to use. This could also be done with any other kind of battery.

But the reason why lithium batteries are used in a UPS is solely that they take up less space. In spite of that, you get the same level of power from lithium batteries.

UPS lithium battery
UPS lithium battery


Cameras these days have all sorts of electrical components inside them. To power them properly while still keeping the camera relatively light and portable, lithium battery packs are used.

In the past, other alternative batteries were used. But since lithium batteries have been out, they have been the go-to for photographers all around the world.


We’ve already seen many uses for lithium batteries because of the fact that they are light. But since they have a longer lifespan and the discharge rate is much slower, they are popularly used inside pacemakers.

A pacemaker is a device that’s implanted in the heart to cure irregular heart rates and conditions like arrhythmia. Lithium batteries are used in these devices which makes it possible so that patients don’t have to get the batteries changed quite as often.

Pacemakers lithium battery
Pacemakers lithium battery

Medical Equipment

Lithium batteries charge faster than any other battery available on the market. That’s why medical equipment manufacturers choose to use lithium batteries.

Since the lithium battery working principle allows it to charge quickly and have high responsiveness, it’s the perfect choice for these pieces of equipment. It also helps the fact that compared to a lead-acid battery, a lithium battery is non-hazardous making it a safer option.

Wrapping Up

With this article, we’ve tried to explain the lithium battery working principle and how it helps convert chemical energy into electrical energy. We’ve also seen how the construction of this battery is tied to the working principle.

If you want to learn more about lithium batteries or you would like to get your hands on some, check out the Thinpack website.

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