Lithium-ion Battery Cells and Chemistries: The Ultimate Guide

When we talk about the foundation of batteries, the only name that comes to mind is none other than a lithium-ion cell. From use in practical applications to use in specific applications, lithium-ion battery cells have always remained the priority.

Although there are some other efficient battery options as well, lithium cells are considered the most capable ones in the market. Whether you’ve to supply power or use it in electric vehicles, lithium-ion battery cells have performed brilliantly in every field.

However, a lithium cell is not a standalone battery. Different other connections and assemblies connect and make a lithium battery pack. What are these chemistries? Let’s have a deep look below.

Lithium-ion Cell Formats

The lithium battery pack, often known as the assembly of different components, contains individual cells. These cells join in a series or parallel fashion. Moreover, the overall performance of lithium cells is also dependent on these individual cell assemblies.

Therefore, lithium batteries come in primary and secondary battery types that determine their performance and efficiency. Not only this but the size, material, weight, power, and voltage of the cell are also measured in these individual battery cells. Lets’ have a look at the formats of lithium-ion cells in detail.

Lithium-ion Battery Cell Types

Cylindrical Lithium Cells

With different voltage power and capacity, cylindrical lithium cells have come on the market. They are just like the traditional battery cells and are the most common format of a battery pack. The length and width vary with the size of the battery.

For instance, a smaller lithium battery will use cylindrical cells containing smaller voltage capacity and power. Thus, they are most widely used in drones, power tools, medical equipment, and children’s toys.

Cylindrical Lithium Cells

Lithium Pouch Cells

Being enclosed in a film of aluminum, the lithium polymer cells are lighter and more cost-effective cells than others. They are available in different shapes and sizes and are a type of cylindrical or prismatic battery cell.

Moreover, the power capacity and density of these cells are comparatively higher than others. Thus, they are easily placed in a cell case and contain two terminal ends for better attachment.

Lithium Pouch Cells

Prismatic Lithium Cells

You might have observed most lithium battery cells are square. This is because of the prismatic battery cell. Their large storage capacity and rectangular shape make them superior lithium cells in the market.

In terms of dimensions, lithium prismatic cells are larger than cylindrical and therefore most energy storage devices use these cells for better functioning. Batteries like laptops and other small electronic devices use lithium prismatic cells in their operation.

Lithium Pouch Cells


Although all prismatic, cylindrical, and pouch cells are the integral components of a lithium battery cell, they have their functionalities as well. The energy density, size, cost, and efficiency of each cell differ in their way.

Along with some common factors, these cells show certain differences. Here is a table that shows the major differences between them.

Features Cylindrical Cells Prismatic Cells Pouch Cells
Energy density Best Better Average
Size Best Average Poor
Cost Best Average Average
Profile Poor Better Best
Weight Poor Better Best
Efficiency Average Best Better
Swelling Best Better Poor

Lithium-ion Cell Chemistry Types

Based on the energy, power, voltage capacity, and overall performance, lithium-ion battery cells are further composed of different chemistry types. Four of them are described in detail below.

Lithium Cobalt Oxide (LCO)

One of the popular types of lithium batteries is lithium cobalt oxide. As the name shows, it uses cobalt oxide as a cathode and graphite carbon as an anode. Lithium cobalt oxide possesses the highest energy and specific power as compared to other lithium chemistry types.

Due to the longer lifespan of lithium cobalt oxide, they are the first choice to use in digital devices including cameras, and mobile phones. Although its thermal stability and load capacity are lower, the lithium plating makes it a super fast and optimized battery.

Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (NCA)

With a specific energy capacity of 200Wh/kg, lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide is one of the finest chemistry types of lithium battery cells. They are most widely used in powertrains and have a very high specific energy density. The composition involves a group of metal oxides that serves as active material in the battery cells.

In addition, NCA or lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide consists of cathode material that helps in improving the battery performance. Along with amazing benefits, it has a drawback as well in the form of a short lifespan. Here is a snapshot that shows the various features of NCA.


Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC)

Being first originated from a three-dimensional spinal structure, Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) is another great battery type of lithium cell. The spinal structure not only provides structural benefits but also aids in improving the flow of electrodes.

As far as the features of Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) is concerned, they possess high specific energy with a low heating rate. The composition involves 33% nickel, 33% manganese, and 33% cobalt which makes an excellent blend of 1:1:1. Due to their effective cathode material, they are widely used in the following applications:

● E-bikes
● Electric powertrains
● Tesla and other latest cars
● Medical equipment

Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP)

Lithium Iron Phosphate or LFP batteries are best known for their cost-effective cathode material composition. With a graphite carbon electrode in their composition, LFP cells can easily charge or discharge at high speeds. The best thing about these lithium battery cells is they come with a longer lifespan and takes very less time in charging.

Lithium Iron Phosphate is often used as a replacement for lead acid batteries in the market. This is because of its prolonged lifespan and highly durable charging system. Enlisted below are some major advantages of LFP:

● Has a much longer lifespan than other batteries
● Needs a very low maintenance
● Comes with an excellent charging and discharging capacity
● Can easily operate at low temperature
● Stable resistant and safe to use

Here is a summary table that shows the main features of lithium iron phosphate or LFP batteries.

Voltages 3.20, 3.30V nominal; typical operating range 2.5–3.65V/cell
Specific energy (capacity) 90–120Wh/kg
Charge (C-rate) 1C typical charges to 3.65V; 3h charge time typical
Discharge (C-rate) 1C, 25C on some cells; 40A pulse (2s); 2.50V cut-off (lower than 2V causes damage)
Cycle life 2000 and higher (related to the depth of discharge, and temperature)
Thermal runaway 270°C (518°F) Very safe battery even if fully charged
Cost ~$580 per kWh


At this point, you have completely understood the main aspects of every chemistry type of lithium in detail. However, how these battery cells differ from each other is still not clear. So, let’s compare all four lithium cell types and see their major differences.

Voltage Difference

The first and most important difference comes in the voltage of these battery cells. Whether it’s a lithium cobalt oxide or lithium manganese oxide, both have their voltage capacity and energy efficiency. For instance, the voltage of lithium cobalt oxide is 3.60V nominal with a typical operating range of 3.0–4.2V/cell.

On the other hand, lithium manganese oxide has a voltage of 3.70V (3.80V) nominal with a typical operating range of 3.0–4.2V/cell. Similarly, the other two types, lithium manganese cobalt oxide has a voltage of 3.70 nominal and lithium iron phosphate has a voltage of 3.30 nominal. It clearly shows the voltage difference between the four chemistry types, indicating that LFP has the highest voltage capacity.

Specific Energy Capacity

The amount of energy a battery contains in response to its weight is the specific energy capacity of that battery. Just like voltage differences, all battery types differ in their specific energy capacity to a certain range. LFP batteries have an energy capacity of 90–120Wh/kg.

Whereas, lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide has an energy capacity of 150–220Wh/kg. Lithium manganese oxide and lithium cobalt oxide show specific energy of 100–150Wh/kg and 150–200Wh/kg respectively. Among all, the specialty cells of lithium cobalt oxide provide up to 240Wh/kg of specific energy to the cell.

Charging and Discharging Rate

The ability of a battery to operate depends on its rate of charging and discharging. Therefore, all battery cells have their specific rates of charge and discharge. The charging rate of lithium cobalt oxide is 0.7–1C. It means it charges to 4.20V (most cells) with a typical 3h charge.

Similarly, the discharge rate of lithium cobalt oxide is 1C with a 2.50V cut-off. The charge and discharge rates of the other three lithium cells are shown as:

● Lithium Nickel Cobalt Manganese Oxide (NMC)

Charge (C-rate) 0.7–1C, charges to 4.20V, some go to 4.30V; 3h charge typical. Charge current above 1C shortens battery life.
Discharge (C-rate) 1C; 2C possible on some cells; 2.50V cut-off

● Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminium Oxide (NCA)

Charge (C-rate) 0.7–1C typical, 3C maximum, charges to 4.20V (most cells)
Discharge (C-rate) 1C; 10C possible with some cells, 30C pulse (5s), 2.50V cut-off

Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP)

Charge (C-rate) 1C typical charges to 3.65V; 3h charge time typical
Discharge (C-rate) 1C, 25C on some cells; 40A pulse (2s); 2.50V cut-off (lower than 2V causes damage)

Life Cycle

The most important of all is the lifespan of lithium cell types. Due to the high performance and strong cathode material, Lithium iron phosphate or LFP batteries has the highest lifespan of any other battery on the market. The specific energy, thermal stability, and voltage of the LFP batteries make them unique from others.

Thermal Stability

Another important factor that differentiates between the lithium battery cells is their thermal stability or thermal runaway. While lithium cobalt oxide has a high specific energy, the thermal runaway is 150°C (302°F). It means lithium cobalt oxide can deal with uncontrollable and emergency heating states.

Just like cobalt oxide, Lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide has typical thermal stability of 250°C (482°F). Moreover, NMC and Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) have thermal stability of 210°C (410°F) and 270°C (518°F) respectively. Thus, each type has its ability to handle over-heating or temperature states in different situations.

Best Lithium-ion Cell Manufacturer & Supplier in China

Now, you are well aware of the fact that lithium battery cells are by far the most common and highly effective batteries to use in every field. Hence, you cannot replace these batteries with any other available option. However, you might be worried about how to find the best lithium-ion cell manufacturers, especially if you live in china.

Among plenty of battery suppliers, it is a difficult task to choose the best one in the market. This is because several battery manufacturers sell fault or non-functional batteries on a large scale. To avoid such a situation, you need to be very careful and contact the best suppliers.

ETEKWARE Lithium Battery Cell

To solve all your battery problems, ETEKWARE has come into the market. With a mission to make the world more sustainable, we are the best battery suppliers in china. The batteries we provide come with high performance, affordable cost, and easy maintenance.

Thus, you can trust our in-demand battery services without any fear of scams or faulty work. Whether you need a battery to operate your electric car or run your house, ETEKWARE is here to help you with all of your battery needs. Contact us now if you need a custom battery solution for your living space.

ETEKWARE Lithium-ion Battery Cell


With all the details and battery specs in hand, you can now easily choose your next lithium battery cell for your area. All lithium cells are highly functional and you cannot skip their use in your daily life needs. Remember to check the maintenance, specific energy, and lifespan before buying any battery of your choice.

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