Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are made up of power-generating cells. Each of these cells have 3 components: a negative electrode, a positive electrode and a chemical named an electrolyte between the positive and negative electrodes. The positive electrode consists of a chemical known as lithium-cobalt oxide. New lithium-ion batteries consist of lithium iron as a chemical compound for the positive electrode. Carbon (graphite) is the chemical compound which makes up the negative electrode. However, this varies depending on the battery and manufacturer of the battery.
Lithium-ion batteries works similarly as standard batteries in a basic way. When the battery receives a charge, lithium-cobalt oxide, positive electrode loses some of its lithium ions. These lithium ions move to the negative electrode and stays there. During this process, the lithium-ion battery absorbs and stores power. On the other hand, when the battery is being discharged, the lithium ions move the other direction to through the electrolyte to the positive electrode. Therefore, generating the energy which will be used to power the lithium-ion battery.
In both scenarios, lithium ions move in the opposite direction towards the ions around the outer circuit. However, electrons do not flow through the electrolyte. The electrolyte acts more like an insulating barrier to electrons. The flow of ions and electrons are interconnected processes, which means, if one should stop flowing, the other one will also stop. If the battery discharged completely, the ions stops moving through the electrolyte, therefore, the electrons won’t be able to flow through the outer circuit. On the other hand, if you disconnect any device that receives power from the battery, electrons will stop to flow and also the ions. The battery will keep discharging even if no device is pulling power from it. However, the rate of discharge is very slow. Lithium-ion batteries consist of electronic controllers that can be used to regulate the charge and discharge of the battery. These lithium-ion electronic controllers, also prevent the battery from overcharging, too fast charging and overheating. These factors can be dangerous as it can cause lithium-ion batteries to explode.