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lithium batteries transportation regulations

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24 Jun 2024

The Pervasiveness and Transportation Challenges of Lithium Batteries

In today’s world, lithium batteries have become an integral part of our daily lives, powering everything from mobile phones and laptops to children’s toys and e-bikes. Despite their widespread use, many are unaware that these power sources are classified as dangerous goods, necessitating strict transportation regulations to ensure safety. One key regulation in this context is PI967 Section II, which provides specific guidelines for the transportation of lithium-ion and lithium-metal batteries. This article explores the details of this regulation and its implications for the transportation sector.

An Overview of Lithium Batteries

Understanding transportation regulations begins with comprehending the nature of lithium batteries, broadly categorized into lithium metal batteries and lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium Metal Batteries

These non-rechargeable batteries contain metallic lithium and are used in devices such as watches, calculators, cameras, and defibrillators.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

Unlike their metal counterparts, lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable and contain lithium in an ionic form within the electrolyte. They power devices like mobile phones, laptops, tablets, power tools, and e-bikes.

Significance of PI967 Section II

PI967 Section II is part of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR), providing specific guidelines for transporting lithium-ion batteries packed with or contained in equipment. This regulation is crucial for ensuring safety during transportation.

Lithium-Ion Battery Transportation Regulations

According to PI967 Section II, the state of charge of lithium-ion batteries for transport should not exceed 30% of their rated capacity. Furthermore, the packaging must be robust to prevent damage to the terminals or short-circuiting.

Packaging Standards

Packaging must ensure that battery terminals do not come into contact with other batteries, metal surfaces, or conductive materials. Batteries should be housed in strong, rigid outer packaging unless the equipment provides equivalent protection.

Labeling Guidelines

Labeling is essential to lithium-ion battery transportation. The lithium battery mark, required under PI967 Section II, must be a rectangle or square with minimum dimensions of 100 mm x 100 mm, containing the UN number of the batteries, which should be at least 12 mm high.

Lithium Metal Battery Regulations

Similar to lithium-ion batteries, lithium metal batteries are subject to transportation regulations under PI970 Section II. These batteries are prohibited as cargo on passenger aircraft, requiring a Cargo Aircraft Only label on all packages.

Achieving Compliance with PI967 Section II

Ensuring compliance with PI967 Section II involves adhering to packaging and labeling guidelines and proper documentation.

Documentation Essentials

Documentation is a critical component of lithium-ion battery transportation, requiring a test summary according to the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria to ensure battery designs meet test requirements.

Training for Compliance

Preparation and training are vital for compliance. IATA offers a ‘Shipping Lithium Batteries by Air’ training course to help shippers comply with the 65th Edition of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR).

Future Trends in Lithium Battery Transportation Regulations

While current regulations aim to ensure safe transportation of lithium batteries, ongoing improvements are being made. For example, from January 1, 2026, lithium-ion batteries packed with equipment and vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries must be offered for air transport with a reduced state of charge.

Conclusion

Adhering to the regulations of PI967 Section II is essential for the safe and legal transportation of lithium-ion batteries. As lithium batteries become more prevalent, these regulations are crucial for mitigating transportation risks. Proper packaging, labeling, documentation, and training are key to ensuring these powerful energy sources' safe transit.

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