Lithium battery transportation

LITHIUM BATTERY TRANSPORTATION

Lithium battery transportation is subject to international regulations. These differ depending on the mode of transportation; whether air, sea or road. Each has its own regulatory body as follows:

  • –  Air (ICAO/IATA)
  • –  Sea (IMDG)
  • –  Road (ADR)

 

Testing

All lithium batteries must undergo a series of rigorous tests which are designed to simulate the effects of transportation. In addition, any lithium batteries which have been tested but have a possible stored energy greater than 100Wh (or contains lithium metal in excess of 2g) must be transported as class 9 dangerous goods. This imposes strict packaging, labelling and documentation requirements on those shipping the product. Special training and certification is required for those wishing to ship class 9 dangerous goods.

Section 38.3 of the UN manual of tests and criteria, entitled “Lithium metal and lithium ion batteries”, contains a series of tests (T1 – T8) as shown below. This is a brief synopsis of each test and further detail including the full description as well as the purpose, procedure and requirement of each test can be found in the complete UN document.

Prior to shipment, each battery of a given design must be tested in this manner. Retesting must be undertaken for any lithium batteries that differ from a tested type by a change that would materially affect the test results. Such batteries are considered a new type.

 

TestDescriptionTest Criteria

T1: Altitude

simulation

Simulates air transport low pressure conditions.  The samples are subjected to 11.6 kPa or less for 6 hours or more at room temp.No leaks, no venting, no rupture, no fire. Open circuit voltage (OCV) not less than 90% of prior test voltage.
T2: Thermal testSimulates the temperature changes during transit. 10 cycles of oscillating temperatures between +75 °C and -40°C for 6 hours each.No leaks, no venting, no rupture, no fire.  Open circuit voltage (OCV) not less than 90% of prior test voltage.
T3: VibrationSimulates the vibration during transportation.  12 cycles of exposure to 8G from 7Hz to 200Hz for 3 hours each.No leaks, no venting, no rupture, no fire. Open circuit voltage (OCV) not less than 90% before testing.

T4: Shock

Simulates the potential shock impacts during shipping.  Subjected to total of 18 half-sine shocks up to 150G in positive and negative direction and all 3 axes.No leaks, no venting, no rupture, no fire.  Open circuit voltage (OCV) not less than 90% before testing.
T5: External short circuitSimulates an external short circuit.  A short with external resistance of less than 0.1 ohm is applied to the battery heated to 57°C.External case temperature shall not exceed 170°C.  No fire, no rupture, and no disassembly within 6 hours after the test.
T6: Impact / CrushSimulates mechanical abuse during shipping. A 9.1Kg mass is dropped onto the cell from 61 cm. A crush force of 13kN is applied.External case temperature shall not exceed 170C.  No fire and no disassembly within 6 hours after the test.
T7: OverchargeSimulates the ability for battery to withstand an overcharge condition during shipping.   Apply twice maximum continuous charging current for 24 hours.No fire, no disassembly within 7 days after the test.
T8: Forced DischargedSimulates forced discharge. Cell is connected to 12V power supply and current limited to manufacturer’s specified maximum discharge current.

No fire, no disassembly within 7 days after the test. Only Cells are subjected to this test

 

The full document can be found here, with section 38.3 starting on page 424.

The transportation of lithium batteries is complex, but at Steatite we have the expertise and necessary authorisation to transport lithium batteries both nationally and internationally.

Our battery specialists are always on hand to help guide you through your engineering and logistical requirements. You can contact us here.