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How Do Lithium Ion Batteries Work?

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Nowadays, lithium batteries are basically everywhere. Notebooks, mobile phones, Golf carts, solar street lights, Cars, etc. Many people are curious how do lithium ion batteries work?

Lithium battery for Cars
Lithium battery for Cars

To have a better understand, we have to understand the internal structure of the battery.

Let’s get started…

Lithium Battery Structure

The following picture to show the internal structure of the battery.

Nearly all lithium batteries are Consists of 3 main parts—— Cells, BMS, Housing. The Bracket only plays the role of fixing the battery. So I will not focus on bracket in this article.

Lithium Battery Inner Structure
Lithium Battery Inner Structure


A cell is the smallest independent unit in a battery component.

According to the shape, the cells can be divided into cylindrical cells and prismatic cells.

(Click here to know: The difference between cylindrical cells and prismatic cells)

Cylindrical cells
Cylindrical cells

According to the material, it can be divided into lithium-ion batteries and sodium-ion batteries.

Different energy can be stored inside the cell according to the capacity. For example, a 6000mah 32650 cell can store three times the energy that can be stored in a 2000mah 18650 cell.

How do cells store energy?

Let’s take a look at the internal structure of the cell.

Structure Of Lithium Cells

Just as below picture, the structure of cells are main made up of Cathode, Anode, And electrolyte and separator.

Structure Of Lithium Cells
Structure Of Lithium Cells

Working Principle Of Lithium Cells

Lithium-ion uses a anode (negative electrode) , an cathode (positive electrode)and electrolyte as conductor.

The anode of a discharging battery is negative and the cathode positive.

A separator creates a barrier between the cathode and anode, preventing the electrodes from touching while allowing electrical charge to flow freely between them.

The cathode is metal oxide, and the anode consists of porous carbon. During discharge, the ions flow from the anode to the cathode through the electrolyte and separator. Charge reverses the direction and the ions flow from the cathode to the anode.

Below picture illustrates the process.

Working Principle Of Lithium Cells
Working Principle Of Lithium Cells


Battery management system (BMS) is technology dedicated to the oversight and management of the lithium battery pack.

Further more,the function of BMS are main included,

  • Detecting battery temperature and balance current
  • Providing battery protection
  • Caculating the battery’s operational state
  • Continually optimizing battery performance
  • Reporting operational status to external devices
Battery with BMS


Usually, the shell can be made of ABS and Stainless Steel, and a small amount of aluminum casting shell according to the internal structure of the battery and the size of the battery space used.

How Do Lithium Batteries Work?

The first thing to emphasize is that. The working principle of lithium batteries is the same as that of lithium cells.

It’s just that the number of cells inside and the type of protection board are different depending on the application. Other than that, there no difference. For example, the voltage in an electric car is several hundreds V, and the voltage in the power bank is indeed 3.7V, but the working principle is the same.

While the battery is discharging and providing an electric current, the anode releases lithium ions to the cathode, generating a flow of electrons from one side to the other.

When plugging in the device, the opposite happens: Lithium ions are released by the cathode and received by the anode.

This process creates an electrical current that powers the electronic devices.

(Click here to view: Lithium Battery Charging: The Definitive Guide)

Charge a lithium battery

Video Explaining How Do Lithium Ion Batteries Work

There is also a video here explaining how do lithium battery work in detail, maybe the comparison helps.

Related Article

Lithium Battery Charging: The Definitive Guide

How to extend the lithium battery life?

How to connect batteries in series vs parallel?

Why change the lead acid to lithium? What is the advantages?

So that’s all things related with lithium battery working.

Or are there still anything that you want to know or not mentioned?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.

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