People often feel confused about lithium battery and li-ion battery. Many think that they are the same. However, they are quite different. There are several important differences. The practical difference between Lithium batteries and li-ion battery is that most Lithium batteries are not rechargeable but Li-ion batteries are rechargeable. From a chemical standpoint Lithium batteries use lithium in its pure metallic form. Li-ion batteries use lithium compounds which are much more stable than the elemental lithium used in lithium batteries. A lithium battery should never be recharged while lithium-ion batteries are designed to be recharged hundreds of times.
Lithium-ion battery packs come in all shapes and sizes, but they all look about the same on the inside. If you were to take apart a laptop battery pack (something that we do not recommend because of the possibility of shorting out a battery and starting a fire) you would find the following:
Lithium-ion batteries have several advantages:
They have a higher energy density than most other types of rechargeables. This means that for their size or weight they can store more energy than other rechargeable batteries. They also operate at higher voltages than other rechargeables, typically about 3.7 volts for lithium-ion vs. 1.2 volts;for NiMH or NiCd. This means a single cell can often be used rather than multiple NiMH or NiCd cells.
If the battery pack gets too hot during charging or use, the computer will shut down the flow of power to try to cool things down. If you leave your laptop in an extremely hot car and try to use the laptop, this computer may prevent you from powering up until things cool off. If the cells ever become completely discharged, the battery pack will shut down because the cells are ruined. It may also keep track of the number of charge/discharge cycles and send out information so the laptop's battery meter can tell you how much charge is left in the battery.
It's a pretty sophisticated little computer, and it draws power from the batteries. This power draw is one reason why lithium-ion batteries lose 5 percent of their power every month when sitting idle.
Lithium-ion batteries also have a lower self discharge rate than other types of rechargeable batteries. This means that once they are charged they will retain their charge for a longer time than other types of rechargeable batteries. NiMH rechargeable battery can lose anywhere from 1-5% of their charge per day, (depending on the storage temperature) even if they are not installed in a device. Lithium-ion batteries will retain most of their charge even after months of storage.
So in summary; lithium-ion batteries can be smaller or lighter, have a higher voltage and hold a charge much longer than other types of batteries.