Lithium Thionyl Chloride Batteries: The Advantages and Disadvantages

Lithium thionyl chloride batteries are one of the newest battery types that have come on the market in recent years. Lithium thionyl chloride batteries offer many advantages over traditional Lithium-Ion and Lithium Polymer batteries, but they also have some disadvantages.

In this article, we will discuss what you need to know about Lithium Thionyl Chloride Batteries so you can make an informed decision about whether or not these are right for your application.

What is a Lithium Thionyl Chloride Battery?

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Lithium thionyl chloride batteries are a type of wet battery. They have an alkaline electrolyte and a sulfonated thionyl chloride as the negative electrode. In comparison to dry cells, they have increased output and have a high-rate capability. The electrolyte is usually a dilute sulfuric acid containing potassium hydroxide as the activator.

In the laboratory, lithium thionyl chloride batteries are used for testing and calibrating equipment such as electrochemical cells and potentiostats. They can also be used to power small instruments such as timers and signal generators that require very low currents.

What are the Common Uses of Lithium Thionyl Chloride Battery?

Aerospace Industry

The most common use of lithium thionyl chloride battery is in the aerospace industry. They are also used in the aerospace industry due to their long shelf life.

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Vehicle Industry

Lithium thionyl chloride batteries are used in electric cars because of their high performance and long life cycle. Lithium thionyl chloride battery is also used for powering remote instruments such as seismometers, underwater transducers, radio telemetry systems, etc. Li-SOCl2 can also be found in aircraft altimeters which work by measuring the difference in atmospheric pressure between the nose and tail of an airplane.

Medical Industry

Lithium thionyl chloride batteries have a very high voltage which makes it possible to use them in medical equipment such as cardiac pacemakers, defibrillators, etc. They are also used in security alarms because they can be easily integrated into small objects like cameras or switches that have a very low power consumption. In addition, they are also used in cameras because of their small size and weight.

Advantages of Lithium Thionyl Chloride Battery

They are available in numerous sizes and designs

Lithium thionyl chloride batteries are available in myriad sizes and designs. No matter what variation your application requires, the core properties: high voltage, energy density, and long life stay constant.

The “Bobbin-type” construction has established itself as an extremely popular method for housing these cells due to its safety features alongside a very serviceable lifespan that allows them to deliver currents up to 2 Amps.

They have a longer lifespan than nickel metal

Yes, lithium thionyl chloride batteries have a longer lifespan than nickel metal. In addition to that, they can also be produced for a lower cost. This makes them a good choice for people who are interested in minimizing the amount of money they spend on batteries. Lithium thionyl chloride batteries can also be recycled because of their compatibility with a wide range of materials.

100% recyclable and environmentally friendly

Lithium thionyl chloride batteries are 100% recyclable and environmentally friendly. They can be recycled to create new batteries. The best way for the lithium thionyl chloride batteries to be recycled is by companies that specialize in recycling lithium-ion cells as they have the required technology and equipment as well as skilled personnel.

They maintain their performance during fluctuations in temperature

A study conducted by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of North Texas in Denton found that Li-SOCl2 battery cells with a higher cell density were capable of withstanding large changes in temperature without significant performance declines.

The University of Oxford conducted an experiment that resulted in no detectable difference in the achieved capacity by the battery cells, even after they were subjected to 40°C fluctuations.

Lithium thionyl chloride batteries are also able to perform well across many other environmental conditions, including high altitude, low atmospheric pressure, and extreme humidity.

Less toxic than nickel-metal when disposed of

When used as a chemical reaction, nickel-metal batteries release hydrogen gas, and lithium batteries release battery acid, which is much less harmful. Also, Lithium thionyl chloride batteries are less toxic when disposed of since they are not prone to combustion.

They don’t corrode and will even work after coming into contact with water for a short period of time

Lithium thionyl chloride batteries are not corroded by water over just a short period of time. This is because the lithium thionyl chloride battery has two main types of insulators that work together to help prevent corrosion.

The first type is known as polypropylene oxide, which prevents corrosion or contamination from coming into contact with the battery’s electrodes.

The second type is called polyvinylidene fluoride, which will not allow moisture to accumulate on the outside of the battery after it has come into contact with water for a short period of time.

It can be manufactured with a variety of different materials, such as carbon and sulfur

Lithium thionyl chloride batteries can be made differently with a variety of materials. For example, the electrodes in a battery are often carbon-based or sulfur-based. Certain materials can alter a battery’s properties to suit its application.

They provide high energy density per volume.

Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) such as lithium-thionyl chloride batteries (LiSOCON, LiSOCl2) provide high energy densities per volume and weight.

Lithium thionyl chloride is a variation of the Lithium-Ion battery that exhibits inherently lower conductivity and slower kinetics than its Lithium Cobalt Oxide and Lithium Manganese Oxide counterparts.

This means that LiSOCl2 cells do not demonstrate the same rates of self-discharge as those with other chemistries. The key advantage to this problem is less frequent cycling for supported system-level power budgets, increased cell life, and reduced reliance on external monitoring electronics such as protective circuits to control voltage or current-limiting devices.

They have a slow loss of charge when not in use

Lithium chemistry has a slower self-discharge rate than other chemistries, which is one of the many performance advantages that lithium offers.

If your device doesn’t use much charge during an average week (less than 25% on some devices), it will last longer on a single full charge and require fewer charging cycles. The constant charging and discharging of traditional electro-chemistry batteries leads to them wearing out more quickly, something called the “Memory Effect.”

They are inexpensive compared to other batteries of their size

Lithium thionyl chloride batteries are inexpensive because they only require the addition of sulfuric acid to produce an electrolyte, which can be stored separately in a container.

This is cheaper than nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal hydride batteries, which typically need an expensive battery separator made of synthetic paper or plastics.

The low material cost also makes it easier for manufacturers to produce large batches of cells without worrying about reducing payroll costs with automation.

For these reasons, the same size lithium thionyl chloride cell might offer twice the watt-hours at half the price when compared to other technologies on a per-unit basis.

Disadvantages of Lithium Thionyl Chloride Battery

The following are a few disadvantages of Lithium thionyl chloride batteries:

They are able to leak when in contact with the air or other environmental fluids

The cathode oxide film on the lead-acid battery is inflexible and leak-proof. It does not seal well because it is a porous organic pad that contains polar fluids that attract dirt, dust, and other contaminants easily.

Therefore, when the corrosion attack from an outside environmental fluid reaches this point, it can penetrate to the inside of the battery casing by passive diffusion or electrochemical penetration followed by deposition on the negative plate, causing an electrical short circuit.

They could generate heat which may ignite toxic material near the battery

Lithium thionyl chloride batteries are used in industrial applications, usually for backup power supplies. If they’re not shutting down properly when they are near the end of battery life (LTCs often overheat at the end of the cycle), then there is a possibility that it could generate heat which may ignite toxic material near the battery.


The lithium anode of a LiSOCl2 battery reacts with the electrolyte. As a result of this chemical reaction, a protective film of lithium chloride crystals forms over the lithium anode, thus impeding the flow of ions between the battery`s anode and cathode. This phenomenon is called passivation of the cell, The passivation of LiSOCl2 batteries ensures an extremely low self-discharge rate during storage.

But it also has disadvantage: Voltage Delay, The passivation layer over the battery’s anode obstructs the flow of current and thus provokes a drop in the operating voltage. With continuous operation, the passivation layer is gradually eroded, so the operating voltage raises to its normal level. However, problems could occur if a lithium thionyl chloride battery is immediately subjected to high discharge currents after a long storage period, In this case, operating voltage could even drop below the cut-off voltage, thereby using trouble for the application. Fortunately, there is one effective way to prevent this. Many lithium thionyl chloride batteries are equipped with a “wake-up” function. This is a powerful capacitor, connected with the battery in parallel to compensate for the initial voltage delay, they work togather as a battery and capacitor combination.

Final Words

Lithium Thionyl Chloride Batteries are widely used in medical equipment, aerospace, and other applications. The batteries have many benefits, solid-state including their excellent safety record, long shelf life, and are safe to use in the presence of air. So go for lithium thionyl chloride batteries if you expect these incredible features!

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