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Battery is the essential component that supply power for the electronics we used in daily life. Because the battery-powered devices come in various shapes and sizes, the shapes of battery also change to fit the devices. So, what are the most common forms of battery cells? What is the difference between them? Here, we will review the types of battery cells, the benefit and their applications.
Each shape of battery cells are in different sizes and chemistries. There are four common shapes of battery cells: button or coin, cylindrical, prismatic, and pouch or polymer.
Button cells, also called coin cells, is small battery shaped as small discs. A metal can forms the bottom body and positive terminal of the cell and the sizes of button cells are based on their diameter and thickness. One of the most popular button cells in use right now is the CR2032 which is 20mm diameter x 3.2mm thick, provides 220mAh at 3V. Coin cells, which are small and light, are always non rechargeable primary battery and widely used in low-powered devices where charging is not possible or practical. They usually designed to consume low amount of power to enable the battery last as long as possible, besides, they’re also fairly safe, which makes them ideal for some military devices or small portable devices including pace maker, animal trackers, wrist watches, remote controls and toys to mention a few.
The cylindrical cells are the battery we most familiar with and is named based on their diameter and length. It is easy to manufacture and mechanically stable, making them the most common form in primary and secondary batteries. Li-ion is one of the chemistries that used in the cylindrical battery, the 18650 (18mm diameter, 65mm length), the 26650 (26mm diameter, 65mm length), and the 21700 (21mm diameter, 70mm length) are three popular sizes. The tubular shape is beneficial to minimize high internal pressures without deforming, therefore, it provides a high safety. A well-designed cylindrical lithium battery taking advantage of the characteristic of high energy density, is extremely versatile for various applications. The small cylindrical cells are widely used in portable gadgets like some consumer electronics and medical devices. The large cells are gaining popularity in electric vehicles and more.
Prismatic cells were introduced in the early 1990s, which can meet the need for thinner sizes. These cells are wrapped in packages resembling a box. The thin and rectangular shape of prismatic cells facilitates better layering and increase the flexibility of the design of format for the manufacturers. The prismatic lithium cell’s key advantages lie in its thin profile, lightness and effective use of space, but at the expense of higher manufacturing costs, less efficiency in thermal management and the vulnerability to swelling. These cells are commonly found in cellphone, laptop, or other lightweight electronic devices but also step into larger formats which are packaged in welded aluminum housings and can deliver 20-30Ah for the use of electric vehicles and hybrids system.
Pouch cells, also named Polymer cells, emerged into the battery industry in 1995. They are like the prismatic cell but without a hard exterior package. The conductive foil tabs welded to the electrode and sealed to a pouch, carrying the positive and negative terminals to the outside. The pouch cells is space-efficient because they provide a lightweight and flexible solution to battery design, making thin profile sizes in different custom shapes for more efficient use of space become possible. It can take advantage of 90-95% packaging efficiency. However, swelling of 8-10% over 500 cycles must be considered with some cell designs. So, adding some stack pressure and allowance for swelling is needed so as to prolong battery life. Pouch cells are commonly Li-polymer, they performs better with light loading and moderate charging, which are popularly used in consumer, military, automotive and portable applications such as drones. Curved polymer cells tend to be used in wearable consumer and medical devices, whereas the large format pouch cells are used in Energy Storage System (ESS) applications.
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