SHIPPING of Li-Ion CELLS
TRANSPORT of Li-Ion CELLS and BATTERY PACKS
Cells and batteries that have successfully passed all the required tests are considered fit for distribution, transport and use. The transport of batteries and battery-powered devices is additionally regulated by transport regulations, respectively:
Road Transport / Freight
Sea Transport / Cargo
Air Transport / Air Freight
Despite the differences between the modes of transport, one requirement is common: Manufacturers and distributors of cells, lithium batteries and devices powered by them must provide / present the corresponding UN test report.
Is the test report the only requirement?
No, it is not. Cells must be properly packed and labeled. Only then we can transport them by any way of shipping.
Only the limits and labeling requirements are the difference.
Low energy batteries,
commonly used in home appliances, may in some situations even be exempted from most shipping requirements / regulations.
High energy batteries
High power batteries require UN-compliant packaging. After isolating the batteries from each other, UN packaging with “Y” specification can be used. These are widely available on the market. Also, batteries installed in devices can be shipped in a plain, strong packaging.
How to transport cells if the manufacturer cannot provide test results?
Cells and batteries for which the manufacturer cannot provide a test report are considered prototypes. Regardless of their power and size, much more restrictive packaging requirements should already apply; for example, the requirement to use non-conductive thermal insulation on the inside of the packaging. Moreover, untested batteries – when damaged or if a concealed defect is detected – should be packaged individually, in UN packages with the specification “X”. These packages are much more costly than “Y”, and their availability on the market is limited. In addition, the recycling of untested cells and batteries is not as simple as the tested ones. The former may pose a fire hazard by the time they are properly disposed of.
Requirements for producers of battery packs
One more vital requirement should always be kept in mind: A battery manufacturer who buys cells for their production from a reliable source, and receives UN38.3 test reports for these cells, must once more subject the whole battery pack he has built to the full testing procedure.
This is to detect any design or construction flaws, and check if, in the process of connecting the cells into a battery, none of the cells has been damaged.
Mechanical damage, short circuit or overheating of one cell causes a chain reaction. A battery fire is almost impossible to control without specialized extinguishing agents.