Lithium Batteries are the most ideal type for electric vehicles. State of the art design and tested reliability has proven that having one of these powering your bike will provide you nothing short of a smile while saying “sweeeeeeet”. Exceptional power output and cycle life also make these the most efficient. Here we will zone in on the main types of lithium batteries used in electric bikes and some history behind them.

Advancement & Improvement

In the 1970s these batteries were made commercially available. They were not rechargable at this point, attempts made in the 1980s resulted in explosive results because lithium as anode material was too unstable causing electrical shorts. It would heat up to melting temperature, then lead to thermal runaway / venting flames out fo the battery to put it in english. Leading now to the lithium – ion battery.

A stable, graphite anode type that had lower specific energy capability but ultimately safer than it’s predessecor. This is a low mainatance battery, a title not many other types can claim. No liquids, need for constant monitoring of discharge, and high energy output makes an excellent addition to an electric bike or motorcycle.

After much experimentation, trial and error. Lithium batteries are a common sight on electric bikes and e motorcycles. They are much lighter and more efficient than lead acid batteries are. Not to mention there is a huge difference in the amount of toxic materials used to produce it. It is clear that we are utilizing greener technology into our lives in all ways. Computers, mobile phones, laptops and gaming consoles that can use a battery are the primary users of lithium batteries.

High Performance

The superior performance comapred to a lead acid battery is thanks to it’s high energy density / voltage of 3.60V. Self discharge is minimal and does not require full cycling like lead acid or nickel. Lithium-ion uses a cathode (positive electrode), an anode (negative electrode) and electrolyte as the conductor.

In an electric bike, the positive lithium-ions travel across an electrolyte and a separator from an anode towards a cathode, which are two dissimilar conducting materials. The cathode then becomes more positively electrically charged than the anode. This creates a voltage between the anode and the cathode, which is essentially a driving force that pushes electrons between two points.

Types of Lithium Batteries

There are 3 main types of lithium batteries used in electric bikes and motorcycles. Lithium-Polymer (Li-po), Lithium-Cobalt-Oxide (LiCo02) and Lithium-Maganese-Oxide (LiMhn2o4). They vary slightly in performance but are suitable for low power applications like powering an e bike. Below we will break down each type and gain familiarity with each system.

Lithium-ion-Polymer (Li-Pol)

The most popular battery for electric bikes. Highly maluble,contain no liquid, so these don’t require the  protective cases that other batteries need. This absence of liquid means that it is more stable and less vulnerable to problems caused by overcharge, damage or abuse. Regardless of manufacture, you will be paying more money for better performance over a lead acid or Ni-cad battery.

Lithium-Cobalt-Oxide (LiCoO2)

High specific energy makes Lithium-cobalt the best choice for mobile phones, laptops and digital cameras. The battery consists of a cobalt-oxide cathode and a graphite-carbon anode. The cathode has a layered structure and during discharge, lithium ions move from the anode to the cathode. The flow reverses on charge. The drawback of a Lithium-cobalt is relatively short life span, low thermal stability, and limited load capabilities.So this type is okat for electric bikes, but better for smaller devices.

 

Lithium-Maganese (LiMg204)

Just like any other lithium battery, but uses Lithium-Maganese as cathode material. The design makes a three dimensional spinel that improves the ion flow on the electrode. Low resistance from the cells enables fast charging and discharging. It can provide about one third of the power output of a lithium-cobalt battery, but is a flexible design that can be aimed towards either better longevity, maximum current load or higher capacity.

Lithium-Maganese can be mized with other metals to create these different scenarios. One for exapmle is Lithium-Nickel-Maganese-Cobalt-Oxide. The cathode is usually a combination of one thrid nickel, one thrid maganese, and one thrid cobalt. This is a great blend that reduces the costs of production thanks to using less cobalt. One other good combo is NCM, which is 5 parts nickel, 3 parts cobalt, and 2 parts maganese.These types ore being preferred by manufactures and are one of the most popular type of lithium battery used by e bikes.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of Lithium batteries.

Advantages:

– High specific energy and load capabilities.
– Long cycle and shelf life, basically maintanaince free.
– High capacity and low resistance.
– Low self discharge

Disadvantages:

– Requires protection circuts to prevent thermal runaway.
– Degrades at higher tempertures when fully charged.
– Cannot rapid charge at freezing temperature.
– Requires shipping permits of carrying a large quantity of batteries.

Greener, faster, stronger!Red vs Blue Electric Bikes

Contents of the Lithium battery contain much more recycleable materal than the old lead acid battery. All batteries should be disposed & recycled properly, using ones that are not harmful to the environment reduce the impact of breakdown costs to reuse these materials.

As improvements continue to be made to existing designs, we are moving together towards a brighter and more fit future together with electric bikes.

All comments below are monitered and relate to this topic.

– Rowan @ Radical |Electric Bikes

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14 Comments

  1. Reply

    Dear Rowan
    Thank you very much for your fantastic website. It is amazing that you show people where to start and what steps to make towards their dream-like bike. I hope more people will know about your website and follow your guidance.
    Kind regards,
    Andrey

    • Rowan

      Reply

      Thank you Andrey! I make an effort to provide information in the best form I understand it. It’s all about doing your research and approaching a goal at your own pace and no one else’s. I enjoy helping others make environmentally conscious decisions that benefits everyone.

      Thank you for commenting!
      Rowan

  2. Reply

    I have learnt with interest the Lithium ion Battery Anatomy, looked at its advantages and realized they outweigh the cons.
    It is great that the Lithium battery contents are more recycleable than before, an indication on improvement in technology.
    I have picked good lessons from your post Rowan and I look forward to new developments with the batteries and their impact on electric bikes.

    • Rowan

      Reply

      Good to hear you took some value out of this information Ahimbe! Yes Lithium batteries are now advanced to a degree that they are very safe. In the coming years we will see some amazing releases of batteries that will only propel us further into a greener future.

      Let me know if you have any questions regarding electric bikes or transportation, it’s a blast!

      – Rowan

  3. Reply

    Great read! Do you think Battery technology is advancing at the same pace as other technology? I always feel that batteries are behind in many aspects.

    • Rowan

      Reply

      Well with what I’ve been learning about energy, it is always growing. As experimentation, implementation, and prototypes are proven to be worthy of serving humanity it is a process that takes some time. But undeniably we are moving towards a very clean future in regards to traditional fuels used for our everyday needs.

  4. Ali

    Reply

    What a nice post you wrote! I really enjoyed reading it and I could not be silent about your post so I decided to leave my comment here and say Thank You! For sharing this quality post with others. Actually this is exactly the information that I was looking for about lithium ion battery and when I landed to your website and read this post, it answered all my questions in details.
    So I’m happy that you decided to write about this topic and share it with people. It’s very useful and can definitely be used as a great source for lithium ion battery anatomy.
    I will come back to your website again for sure and I’m looking forward to read your new posts.)

    Thanks!

    • Rowan

      Reply

      No prob Ali! This is why I made this website. There is valuable information about how to live a cleaner and greener lifestyle but it is suppressed by the big companies that don’t want you to change for the greater good. This only fuels me to make more content and step up against our old ways, and readers like you power me up even more. I am very happy you found what you were looking for here at radical electric bikes and will be posting more related content soon!

      – Rowan

  5. Reply

    Hi

    A very informative article. I’m not very technical but your reviews of each product are very thorough. I really like how you detail the advantages & disadvantages of lithium batteries! This lets me know that your content is honest!

    • Rowan

      Reply

      Hi Gaius,

      I have experimented with many electric bikes over some time and must provide my honest opinion. On top of learning through online videos and how to’s, anything can be done if you set your mind to it! I enjoy that you took pleasure and usefulness in reading my content, it makes me want to provide even more valuable information to help those looking for an electric bike or e motorcycle and living a more sustainable and active lifestyle.

      – Rowan

  6. Reply

    The rechargeable battery is a tricky thing. After what Samsung went through trying to get more out of a phone battery, you can never be careful enough with these batteries. I like the newer batteries as they are a little safer that the older models. What are the ratings for each type of battery when discharging during use, which one will last longer on a charge. Can you charge these batteries while still in the bike or do you have to take them out.
    John

    • Rowan

      Reply

      Yes those types of lithium batteries were quite unstable. Today much more stable materials are used, and continue to improve! Yes you can charge the battery on the bike or if you know how to remove the battery first, you can still charge it nonetheless.

      – Rowan

  7. Cole

    Reply

    Great piece on the different types of lithium batteries!
    I didn’t know there are more than one kind, and even better, your straight-shooting explanation takes all the mystery out of the topic. Also learned there’s more to bike locks than I thought I knew of. Good stuff!
    Will be tuning in to see what’s next in your blog.

    • Reply

      I make the effort to describe the details with transparency. Bike locks are one of the most important pieces of gear that everyone should take seriously in order to have their bike and piece of mind secure.

      – Rowan @ Radical Electric Bikes

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