Difference Between Alkaline and Lithium Batteries
By Claire Miles - September 6, 2022

When it comes to portable energy, batteries play an essential role. The two most prevalent batteries, alkaline and lithium, have significant characteristics that make them better suited to specific applications.

Table Summary

Alkaline BatteriesLithium Batteries
Ions move in only one directionIons move in both directions, making them rechargeable.
They are cost-effectiveCost more than alkaline batteries
Easily recyclableDifficult to recycle


Alkaline batteries are a type of primary battery where energy is derived from the reaction of zinc metal with manganese dioxide. Other varieties, such as those made from nickel and cadmium, are rechargeable, although unreliably. Alkaline batteries account for 80% of all manufactured batteries in the United States, with over 10 billion individual units produced globally.

Most portable consumer electronic devices make use of lithium batteries. Lithium batteries refer to a group of lithium-metal chemistries that may use any combination of cathodes and electrolytes but only use metallic lithium as the anode. Li2TiO3 and LiFePO4 are great examples of lithium batteries. Their recharge efficiencies are approximately 90%, while their cycle durability (100 percent depth of discharge cycles) is approximately 10000 to 90% capacity and approximately 12000 to 80% capacity, respectively. The battery usually requires between 0.15 to 0.3 kg of lithium per kWh.

Alkaline VS Lithium Batteries

The primary defining difference between both batteries is in their defining chemistries. Lithium batteries also do not weigh as much as Alkaline batteries. They also tend to last longer since they can be charged and reused. Regardless of how frequently they are used, Alkaline batteries usually have a shelf life of two to three years. Because lithium ions can travel back and forth between the electrodes, the batteries do not lose voltage even when subjected to heavy loads. They also have more power, voltage, and discharge current. They are, however, significantly more expensive and are much more likely to short-circuit and create a fire. Furthermore, lithium batteries are far more challenging to recycle.