If you did not already know, either Lithium-ion or Nickel-Cadmium cells power-up your laptop battery. The latter is the material of choice for making most portable device batteries owing to its high-energy capacity to weight ratio. Physical characteristics denied Nickel-Cadmium cells the continued use as the preferred power source for portable devices such as laptops. Compared to the Lithium-ions cells, Nickel-Cadmium is much heavier and adds more weight to the portable device, a fact manufacturers are avoiding.
Despite mass adaptation, Lithium-ion cells have numerous disadvantages, the cell composition undergoes degradation after two or three years whether in use or not. The maximum-recorded operation time for a laptop battery has been 5 years. Manufacturers are churning out variants of the Lithium-ion batteries promising longer operational life but so far, most have not tipped the 5-year mark.
The voltage dispensed by Lithium-ion cells is dependent upon the temperature of the battery. High temperatures impede electron movement hence lowering the voltage production. As a result, Lithium-ions have a third unmarked terminal between the negative and positive terminal for monitoring the cell temperature.
A thermistor connects to the terminal to redirects excess current and temperature within the whole power supply system. In the event that the third terminal is loose, the Lithium-ion cells’ temperature rises and eventually explode because of a resultant reaction known as chemical combustion. That is why faulty laptop batteries explode when kept in charging mode for long.
A single Lithium-ion cell gives out a maximum of 3.6 volts, the size of the cell only determines how long the cell would last but not the amount of voltage produced. Therefore, if you break open the casing of a laptop battery you will find six batteries connected in series mode to produce 12, 15 or 18 volts. A technician can replace the small batteries but it is advisable to return the whole pack to the laptop vendor for replacement incase of damage.
Wrong configuration of the batteries may lead to an explosion, battery leaks or short-circuiting of the internal power distribution system. It is advisable not to buy second hand laptop batteries that have been in use or in store for more than two years; the internal batteries may have leaks or developed inertness. A decent laptop battery should be sold within the first six months of manufacture.
One bizarre fact about Lithium is that it’s also used as medication to treat maniac disorders such as bipolar tendencies, hyperactivity, rushed speech, frenzies and abnormal excitement. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) fanatics may be tempted to test out this fact by ingesting discharge from a leaking laptop battery.
The likely occurrence would be an itching skin, vomiting, nausea and shaking hands. In addition, industrial Lithium is laced with concentrated acids to produce ions and would corrode internal organs at the point of contact. Experimenting with electronic chemicals is a dangerous affair and may lead to long-term illnesses such as cancer and deformations. All medical stunts by DIY experts are done at the risk of the practitioner, any person who copies or attempts the test does it at their own risk.