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Lithium Batteries Classified as Hazardous?
Are Lithium Batteries Classified as Hazardous Material?
Lithium batteries are designed to provide high levels of power. The electrical energy in these batteries is significant, meaning that such batteries can sometimes generate a great amount of heat if short circuited. In addition, the chemical contents of these batteries may catch fire if damaged or if improperly designed or assembled. For these reasons, there are safety regulations controlling the shipment of these types of batteries. Shippers must conform to the applicable regulations published by PHMSA and/or IATA. While all lithium batteries are classified as hazardous materials (also referred to as dangerous goods), there are exceptions for common small sizes of these batteries that simplify the rules for shipping these items. This document describes the rules for shipping these small lithium batteries. Shipments are not fully regulated.
|Regulations differ depending upon what type of lithium battery you are shipping (lithium ion or lithium metal) and whether you are shipping batteries packed without equipment, batteries packed with equipment, or batteries contained in equipment.|
- Lithium Ion or Lithium Metal: There are two major kinds of lithium batteries, both of which contain very high levels of energy: lithium ion and lithium metal. Lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries are rechargeable, also called “secondary lithium batteries.” These ion batteries includes lithium polymer (Li-Po) batteries and are often found in common electronic devices such as cell phones and laptops. Lithium metal batteries are generally non-rechargeable and commonly called “primary lithium batteries.”
- Measuring the Size of Your Lithium Battery: Lithium batteries are measured in “Wh.” “Wh” stands for “watt-hour.” It is a measure used to indicate the energy capacity of a lithium ion cell or battery. It is also important to learn the difference between a cell and battery. A cell is a single encased electrochemical unit. It has one positive and one negative electrode that exhibit a voltage differential across its two terminals. Many cells can be termed “battery” or “single-cell battery” in common conversation. Examples of a “cell” would be a CR123 primary lithium cell used for cameras and flashlights. A battery is two or more cells electrically connected together by permanent means, including case, terminals and markings. A button battery is a small round battery where the height is less than the diameter and also commonly referred to as “coin batteries.” Examples can be found in watches, calculators, electronic clocks, toys and other applications.
Does your lithium battery requires special handling?
Therefore, to conclude, whether you can ship lithium batteries depends on whether you are shipping lithium ion or lithium metal and whether you are shipping batteries packed without equipment, or batteries contained in equipment.