Lithium Batteries

One of the many industrial/commercial quests for longer battery life was spearheaded by the computer industry. They needed better rechargeable batteries for their laptop computers. The huge quantities that would be required by them excited the battery industry and they, together with new entrants to the business, responded with numerous sophisticated designs, all employing newly discovered Lithium based chemistry. At the same time, the impending oil crisis was forcing automobile manufacturers to explore various electrical drive systems that necessarily required high energy storage batteries. They, too, turned to Lithium chemistry to pack in more power than was obtainable from conventional lead-acid batteries. However, in virtually every industry where the use of Lithium batteries was being explored, their potential high power density output had to be reduced somewhat by the need for them to be fully rechargeable. Some design compromises would have to be made to accommodate user’s need for quick recharging cycles which, unfortunately, resulted in high current flow back into the battery and possible overheating. Nonetheless, the inherent advantages of Lithium batteries easily overcame this mildly limiting factor and, today, Lithium batteries have come into their own as practical, albeit expensive, power sources for myriad applications in commerce and industry. However, there always was a small sector of industry that was willing to give up their ability to recharge these batteries in order to gain maximum power density and longer shelf life. Clearly, for many powered applications that were “asleep” much of the time (smoke detectors, emergency devices, remote alarms, EPIRB’s, etc.) compact size and long shelf life were much more critical attributes than the ability to recharge. Better to discard and replace a battery after 5 or 10 years of service than to worry about recharging it. Thus, a unique new series of extremely powerful batteries was developed, well suited for these applications and they soon became available to manufacturers who readily accepted their limitations. These new, non-rechargeable Lithium batteries possess the highest energy capability of any known battery, but they could only be used for applications with extremely low current draw. At ORBITA, these very same properties attracted us. We knew that the extremely low battery drain properties of our Swiss-designed motors which only draw 5 to 10 milliamperes when operating and less than 10 microamperes when in the “sleep” mode, were perfectly matched for use with these superb batteries. So, we decided to “partner” with a well-known Lithium battery manufacturer and worked with them to develop a proprietary “D” cell sized battery that met our special watchwinder needs. The batteries that finally emerged provided an output voltage of 3.6 volts, much higher than the conventional 1.5 volts from normal alkaline batteries. That, of course, necessitated a number of changes in our normal watchwinder circuitry but by coupling two of these batteries together in parallel, we were able to achieve more than 10 times the battery life of our original winders which were powered with alkaline batteries. At this point we decided to standardize our Lithium batteries for all of our SPARTA series. These Lithium batteries are installed at our factory and will require no attention for at several years. When these batteries are finally depleted.