Inside a Laptop Battery
I am dreading the day my Laptop’s battery dies and I am forced to buy a new one. The damned things are so expensive, one starts considering buying a brand new laptop instead of buying a battery and paying for some over-due laptop repairs.
Recently when I had to change the battery on one of the company laptops, I couldn’t help but wonder what is inside them that makes them so expensive-heavy-mysterious?
Mind you, opening a laptop battery is considered so hazardous that the manufacturers generally use a sealed container and print warning notices galore. Technically, a Lithium-Ion Battery contains volatile chemicals that may explode and cause severe bodily harm. The contents of the battery are also dangerous pollutants and users are requested to spend money to return the dead thing to the original manufacturer for safe-disposal.
So here we go opening a laptop battery to discover it’s innards.
Opening the battery was easier than previously thought. A little pressure on the edges where two halves of the battery compartment seem to be joined, produced a cracking sound and pink gloss. 10 minutes later, the top half had been split-wide-open.
The battery shell essentially contains rows of Lithium-Ion cells that are joined in a series. Lithium-ion cells can charge more rapidly and discharge higher amounts of current. They also have slower decay of stored power. The complicated chemicals make the individual cells very expensive.
Over a period of time (typically 3 years), some/all of the cells become useless as they can no longer store enough power. In such a case, the entire battery has to be thrown away.
Enterprising citizens can perhaps determine and replace individual damaged cell, but for the common enthusiast such individual Li-ion cells are neither easily available nor present in the various manufacturer batteries in standard shape and size to be swappable.
It appears that it’s not just the cells containing chemicals that are adding to the pollution, unique design characteristics and lack of re-usability is adding to it too.
The batteries also contain some circuits to control the charging/discharge cycles, present identification information and other electronic functions.
Now that I have done it, I wonder if I was not better off ogling at the center-fold of some risque magazine.