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Lithium (primary)

Characteristics of lithium primary cells

Lithium primary (or disposable) cells come in a variety of different chemistries. The two most common are Lithium thionyl chloride (LiSOCl2) and Lithium-Manganese Dioxide (LiMnO2).

Primary lithium cells are not rechargeable. This means that they do not require the same design constraints as rechargeable lithium cells, and thus can offer more capacity, lower self-discharge rates, and often different voltages.

Performance data:

  • Voltage: 3.0 (LiMnO2) and 3.6V (Lithium thionyl chloride)
  • Temperature range: -55°C to +70°C
  • Typical energy density: 280-290 Wh/kg


Portable consumer devices

Medical applications, such as pacemakers


  • High energy density, double that of premium alkaline batteries
  • Low weight
  • High cell voltage
  • Flat discharge characteristic
  • Low self discharge
  • Very long shelf life
  • Very long operating life (15 to 20 years for lithium thionyl chloride)
  • Wide operating temperature range (-55°C to +70°C)
  • Excellent durability
  • Small cell size


  • High cost