Lithium or Magnesium: Which Type of Batteries Are Better for Your Project

If you are designing something and you need to install a battery into it, you have several choices including batteries with magnesium anodes and batteries with lithium anodes. Wondering which might be better for your prototype? Take a look at these considerations:

1. Magnesium is less expensive.

If you opt to use a battery with magnesium anodes, it will typically be less expensive than a battery with lithium anodes. Magnesium is more readily available in multiple forms including rock dolomite, and that helps to keep the price down. Additionally, magnesium doesn't react to the air as quickly as lithium does, and that makes magnesium easier to work with, and by extension, that makes magnesium anodes cheaper to produce than lithium.

2. Magnesium is safer.

Magnesium is less reactive than lithium, and that makes it safer. Additionally, lithium tends to grow dendrites when it's charging, adding to its danger levels. Unfortunately, In particular, some lithium batteries have been known to overheat and catch fire, something that infamously happened in January 2014 with a Boeing airliner.

3. Magnesium batteries have more energy density.

Magnesium batteries have more energy density than lithium batteries, meaning they can hold more energy in the same amount of space. That is essential to consider if you are trying to keep size in mind as you develop your prototype. In fact, magnesium batteries have 12 times more energy density than lithium batteries. That also translates to faster and more efficient charging times from the magnesium batteries.

4. Lithium batteries are rechargeable.

Lithium batteries are in everything from electric cars to smartphones, and these batteries can be recharged. Unfortunately, magnesium batteries can only be recharged in theory, and most people who buy batteries with magnesium anodes buy the commercialised primary cell batteries which cannot be recharged. If you want the battery in your prototype to be rechargeable, you may need to opt for a lithium battery. However, researchers are constantly looking for ways to recharge magnesium batteries. Recently, engineers from Toyota found a chloride-based electrolyte that can be used to make rechargeable magnesium batteries. As a result, you may want to check new research and development before making your final decision on which type of battery you want. There is always something new happening in the world of magnesium batteries.

In many cases, if possible, you may want to create your design so that it uses a lithium battery or a non-rechargeable battery with magnesium anodes. However, you may want to keep the design relatively flexible so that you can replace the battery with a rechargeable magnesium battery at some point in the future.