Lithium polymer batteries are thin, rectangular, lightweight batteries used in many electronic items such as laptop computers, desktop computers, and cell phones. They are usually designed to be rechargeable, which is another reason why they are commonly used with electronic devices. "LiPo" and "LiPoly" are common short names for lithium polymer batteries, which are considered to be a safer alternative to lithium ion batteries.
An Alternative Battery
LiPoly batteries are often used as an alternative to lithium ion batteries for several reasons. First, lithium ion batteries have lithium tightly contained within them and because they are so powerful, if a short occurs inside them, it can lead to flames. Cylindrical in shape, lithium ion batteries look more like a larger version of AA batteries rather than the narrow, flat, lithium polymer batteries. Both lithium ion and LiPoly batteries are available in rechargeable versions, but lithium polymer batteries are not as prone to flammability as lithium ion batteries are.
Zinc-based batteries are another alternative to lithium ion batteries as they are long lasting, not easily flammable, and are more environmentally friendly than lithium ion batteries. However, lithium is a popular battery choice as it gives the biggest amount of electric energy possible in energy per unit weight of all solid elements.
As with almost all batteries, LiPoly batteries will explode if overcharged, but because they contain polymer gel, LiPoly batteries will not usually burst into flames if crushed, like lithium ion batteries are prone to do. The reason for the difference in flammability reactions between the two types of batteries is the way the lithium is suspended within the batteries. In lithium ion batteries, the lithium ions are suspended by organic solvents that are flammable, while in lithium polymer batteries, the lithium is contained in a polymer gel that is not easily flammable.
Lithium polymer batteries cost more than lithium ion batteries and are quicker to lose their capacity. Yet, LiPoly batteries are lighter in weight, making them ideal as a notebook, or laptop, computer battery, as well as a battery for cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), camcorders, hearing aids, and digital cameras. The reason lithium polymer batteries are so lightweight is that the polymer gel packs fit into the spaces within the battery and eliminate the need for metal casing to enclose the electrodes.
Extend Battery Life
Like most batteries, LiPoly batteries will deplete if they are not charged often enough, if they get overheated, or when the battery life simply runs out. The length of a battery's life depends mostly on how much it is used, but there are some things that can be done to help it last longer:
- Dim the screen: Most cell phones and computers allow the user to change the screen's brightness level. By dimming the screen as much as possible, battery life can be extended more than with a brightly lit screen.
- Don't multitask: While it may help the work get done faster, multitasking on cell phones or computers runs down batter life faster. When the electronic device is running more than one program at a time, it uses more power. Even if a user is not multitasking, it is best to shut down any programs that are not currently being used.
- Keep it clean: To avoid buildup from developing, clean the metal contact plates on the battery, which are found on the end of the battery that comes in contact with the electronic device. A cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol works well to remove buildup.
- Keep it cool: Avoid letting any electronic device get too hot. Some devices, especially laptops, will overheat when used for long periods of time or if the air vents are not ventilated. Removing dust from air vents will keep the computer cooler, help avoid overheating, and ultimately extend battery life.