When ‘mineral’ and ‘battery’ is put together in the same sentence, more often than not, it would not make sense to most people. But the price of one affects the other, just like how the price of spodumene gemstone affects lithium battery cost.
Most people take batteries for granted since they are not flashy, have no aesthetic value, or maybe because they are mostly hidden. But people are largely dependent on these products—from powering mobile phones to keeping your heart pumping, and even getting you to work. Batteries play an important role in modern society, but after use, you just shuck it away without second thought.
In America alone, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that approximately three billion batteries of various types are used and thrown away each year. But there’s a whole new world behind the technology of batteries. Do you know where batteries came from or what the manufacturing processes involved are? How do you maximize the use of your battery? Which battery does what?
Take the case of lithium batteries.
Where does it come from?
The most common battery pack type today is lithium or lithium-ion, or its cousin lithium-ion polymer. Whatever it may be, lithium comes from the mineral spodumene.
What is spodumene?
Spodumene is a mineral. The term “spodumene” comes from the Greek word “spodumenos”, or “ash” or “burnt” colored. Its composition—that of lithium aluminum silicate—makes spodumene an integral source for industrial-use lithium in the modern day. As lithium ore, it can be processed into varying grades and may be used in ceramics, steel, fluxing agent, medicine, and glass.
Major use in the battery industry
Spodumene is the source of the lithium used in lithium batteries, or what is commonly known as Li-ion or Li-Poly. What are the differences?
Lithium batteries are not rechargeable. Lithium-ion or Li-ion are designed in such a manner that it may be recharged hundreds of times. Li-ion is commonly used in laptops. The lithium-ion polymer or Li-Poly has the same characteristics of a Li-ion but comes in very slim profiles and simplified packaging, which makes it ideal for mobile phone technology.
EVs or Electric Vehicles
The electric vehicle industry has added to the increase in demand for lithium. In 2016, the demand increased by 26%, while in 2018, the increase was predicted at 39%. Experts agree that this may increase to 73% by 2025. More businesses dealing with automobiles (taxi companies, car rentals, delivery services) are starting to shift their fleet from fossil-fueled vehicles to electric vehicles. Manufacturers of electric vehicles prefer using lithium-ion batteries because of their ideal weight to energy ration.
Caring for your lithium-ion or lithium-ion polymer
While on the subject of batteries, here are a couple of first-hand knowledge on how to care for the batteries on your smartphone. There are prevailing notions that cellphone charging shouldn’t be done overnight. Technology experts disagree—they say that it’s perfectly okay because today’s lithium-ion batteries are smart enough to do its own power management. Overcharging is a thing of the past—today’s phones will stop charging once it reaches 100 percent.
Another myth is if you kill apps, you’re saving power. Experts say this is untrue. In fact, killing apps and then restarting them again uses more power from our battery.