Lithium vs. Titanium Batteries

Most cell phones are powered by lithium-ion batteries.
••• cell phone image by MateiA from Fotolia.com

Battery technology and the rapid pace of its development affect us all. If you use any of the thousands of modern-day devices that require portable power, you will find that what type of power source you select can make all the difference in the value you get from your device. Of course, there are many options available. Two options are lithium and titanium batteries. When making a comparison, there are a few things you should know.

Function

A lithium battery passes ions from a positive electrode to a negative electrode through an electrolyte solution, then back again releasing electricity in the process. A titanium battery is really just an upgraded alkaline battery. Small amounts of a compound containing titanium are added to a traditional alkaline battery to improve performance by lowering resistance and making the battery more efficient.

Features

Titanium batteries have marked differences from lithium batteries in a number of areas. Titanium batteries are more expensive than their alkaline counterparts, but still may be 50 to 65 percent cheaper than lithium batteries of the same size.

Also, titanium batteries can be more powerful than regular batteries, yet still generate only 20 to 25 percent of the electrical capacity of a lithium battery of the same size. Titanium batteries are less efficient than lithium batteries, they discharge power at a greater rate even when not in operation, so they have a shorter battery life. The technology used in a lithium battery can generate three times the power and discharge that power with much greater efficiency. This means that despite the ability of smaller lithium batteries to power more energy-intensive applications, their heightened efficiency allows them a much greater battery life as well.

Types

Batteries are often separated into two categories based on usage. Single-use batteries, also called disposable batteries, are used once, so battery life is a critical point of comparison. Since lithium batteries are a more-efficient technology, they are superior in this category. The second grouping is the rechargeable battery. Until recently, titanium batteries were not available in this product class. Now that they are, consumers can use and recharge them up to several hundred times before they will no longer hold a charge. However, rechargeable lithium batteries have been available for some time now and the earliest types can be charged more than 1,000 times and still hold up to 80 percent of their original charge.

Safety

Lithium batteries are more sensitive to heat than titanium batteries and will lose their charge more rapidly if stored in high temperatures. In some instances, lithium batteries that have overheated have actually burst into flames. This isn't an issue for titanium batteries. However, as the technology used in the lithium cell is integrated into more and more applications, the safety issue will inevitably be resolved.

Benefits

While in direct comparison, lithium batteries seem to be far superior to titanium batteries, titanium batteries still offer a great deal more performance and power over regular batteries and at a much lower cost than lithium batteries. To many consumers, the high cost of the lithium battery makes it a much poorer option to titanium batteries despite its higher performance. So the real comparison comes down to the balance of costs and benefits to each consumer.

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