Coulombic efficiency (CE) has been widely used in battery research as a quantifiable indicator for the reversibility of batteries. While CE helps to predict the lifespan of a lithium-ion battery, the prediction is not necessarily accurate in a rechargeable lithium metal battery. Here, we discuss the fundamental definition of CE and unravel its true meaning in lithium-ion batteries and a few representative configurations of lithium metal batteries. Through examining the similarities and differences of CE in lithium-ion batteries and lithium metal batteries, we establish a CE measuring protocol with the aim of developing high-energy long-lasting practical lithium metal batteries. The understanding of CE and the CE protocol are broadly applicable in other rechargeable metal batteries including Zn, Mg and Na batteries.
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