Lithium Battery Transportation

The United Nations publications “Recommendations on the TRANSPORT OF DANGEROUS GOODS Model Regulations” & its counterpart “Recommendations on the TRANSPORT OF DANGEROUS GOODS Manual of Tests and Criteria” are the internationally recognised authority for the testing, packaging, and shipping of Dangerous Goods.

SPECIFYING, PURCHASING AND SHIPPING LITHIUM BATTERIES

1. The transport of Lithium batteries is subject to international regulation which can differ if the batteries are transported by air, sea or road. Each mode of transport, air, sea and road has its own regulations: Safe transport of dangerous goods by air (ICAO/IATA), Dangerous goods by sea (IMDG), Dangerous goods by road within Europe (ADR)

2. All Lithium batteries must undergo mechanical and electrical tests which simulate the effects of transportation.

3. Lithium batteries which have been transportation tested but have a possible stored energy of >100Wh (or greater than 2g of lithium metal) must be transported as class 9 dangerous goods which impose 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.

4. Lithium batteries which have been transportation tested and have a possible stored energy of

5. There are a range of fines for companies including OEMs who do not comply with these regulations.

6. Please talk to us early in the development stage for maximum benefit. We can discuss pack configuration options, cell choices and likely destinations.
All of which will assist with us creating a cost effective, high performing battery that can be safely be shipped to your customers.

The UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, section 38.3 entitled “Lithium Metal and Lithium ion Batteries”, contains the UN T1-T8 Tests that are shown below. Refer to the complete UN document for a full description of the tests and the purpose, procedure and requirement of each test. These tests must be conducted for each battery of a given design and must be completed prior to shipment. Lithium batteries which differ from a tested type by a change that would materially affect the test results shall be considered a new type and must be retested.

T1 ALTITUDE – This test simulates air transport under low-pressure conditions.

T2 THERMAL – This test assesses cell and battery seal integrity and internal electrical connections. The test is conducted using rapid and extreme temperature changes.

T3 VIBRATION – This test simulates vibration during transport.

T4 SHOCK – This test simulates possible impacts during transport.

T5 EXTERNAL SHORT CIRCUIT – This test simulates an external short circuit.

T6 IMPACT – This test simulates an impact. (Cell Only)

T7 OVERCHARGE – This test evaluates the ability of a rechargeable battery to withstand an overcharge condition.

T8 FORCED DISCHARGE – This test evaluates the ability of a primary or a rechargeable cell to withstand a forced discharge condition.

Current information can be found here UN38.3 revision 5 amendment 2. Pages 424 – 435 are batteries related, this was adopted January 2015 and is still in force.

Please note that UN38.3 revision 6 is now published and will become effective from January 2017. The document can be found here: UN38.3 revision 6. Pages 424 – 435 are concerning batteries. We recommend that all new batteries are tested to this revision 6 as it incorporates all requirements of rev 5 amendment 2. Note that batteries previously tested to UN 38.3 revision 3 amendment 1 or newer do not require retesting.

Creasefield can assist with all aspects of your battery design and manufacture, including the testing detailed above. Please call us to discuss further.

This document has been written based solely on our understanding of the latest regulations. Please note that regulations are subject to constant review in the light of new technical developments and changing requirements of the industry.

Visit www.unece.org/ and www.iata.org/ for more information regarding the UN Regulations, Testing and Shipping.


Creasefield recommend that independent advice is sought from a Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor to ensure consignments are prepared and shipped correctly.

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