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General Requirements and Provisions for the Transportation of Lithium Batteries

General Requirements and Provisions for the Transportation of Lithium Batteries

General Requirements and Provisions for the Transportation of Lithium Batteries

The transportation of a lithium cell or battery requires the shipper to ensure it meets certain standards of testing and production before its transportation in commerce can be considered. The purpose of this article is to identify and explain the general requirements applicable to all transportation of a lithium cell or battery.

The regulations this article seeks to explain can be found as follows (current as of August 2017):

  • The Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) of the USDOT at 49 CFR 173.185(a).
  • The Dangerous Goods Regulations (58th Edition) of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) at 3.9.2.6.
  • The International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG) at 2.9.4
  • Section 349 of Publication 52 of the United States Postal Service (USPS).

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Regulation:  Cell or Battery Proven to Meet UN Criteria:

Applicability:

  • PHMSA/USDOT:  yes
  • IATA:  yes
  • IMO:  yes
  • USPS:  yes.  USPS contains a specific reference to this requirement and blanket statement: “All packaging must meet all applicable requirements specified in 49 CFR 173.185.”

And…

  • All lithium cells and batteries regardless of lithium content or Watt-hour rating.
  • It is the responsibility of the shipper of the lithium cell or battery to ensure compliance with this regulation.

What it Requires:

  • Each cell or battery must be of a type proven to meet the criteria in part III, sub-section 38.3 of the UN (United Nations) Manual of Tests and Criteria.
  • Cells and batteries – including those that have been refurbished or otherwise altered – must meet the above-referenced UN criteria regardless of whether the cells used to construct the battery are composed of a tested type.
  • A battery or cell manufactured according to a type that meets the requirements of sub-section 38.3 of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Revision 3, Amendment 1 or any subsequent revision and amendment applicable at the date of the testing may continue to be transported, unless otherwise provided in the regulations.
  • A battery or cell type that only meets the requirements of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Revision 3, are no longer valid.  However, a battery or cell manufactured in conformity to the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Revision 3 before July 2003 may continue to be transported if all other applicable requirements have been met.

Comments:

  • It is the responsibility of the shipper to obtain confirmation from the battery manufacturer or supplier this requirement has been met.
Regulation:  Maintain a Record of Completion of Testing:

Applicability:

  • PHMSA/USDOT:  yes
  • IATA:  no
  • IMO:  no
  • USPS:  yes, “All packaging must meet all applicable requirements specified in 49 CFR 173.185.”

And…

  • All lithium cells and batteries regardless of lithium content or Watt-hour rating.
  • It is the responsibility of the manufacturer of the lithium cell or battery to ensure compliance with this regulation.

What it Requires:

  • Create a record of satisfactory completion of the required testing (i.e. the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria referred to above).
  • Maintain the record for as long as the lithium cell or battery design is offered for transportation and for one year thereafter.
  • Make the record available to an authorized representative of Federal, state, or local government upon request.

Comments:

  • This regulation – unique to PHMSA/USDOT and, by incorporation, USPS – specifically applies to the manufacturer of the cell or battery.

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Regulation:  Lithium Battery or Cell Design:

Applicability:

  • PHMSA/USDOT:  yes
  • IATA:  yes
  • IMO:  yes
  • USPS:  yes, “All packaging must meet all applicable requirements specified in 49 CFR 173.185.”

And…

  • This requirement does not apply to a lithium cell or battery subject to the “smaller lithium battery exception”.
  • It is the responsibility of the shipper of the lithium cell or battery to ensure compliance with this regulation.

What it Requires:

Each cell or battery must:

  • Incorporate a safety venting device or be designed to prevent a violent rupture under normal transportation conditions.
  • Be equipped with effective means of preventing external short circuits.
  • Be equipped with effective means of preventing dangerous reverse current flow (e.g. diodes or fuses).  This requirement is applicable solely to a battery that contains cells or a series of cells connected in parallel.

Comments:

  • Refer to this table for threshold lithium content for classification of a “smaller lithium battery”.
StatusLithium Ion or Lithium Polymer
Watt-hour (Wh) rating
Lithium Metal
Lithium Content (g)
BatteryCellBatteryCell
Subject to "smaller battery exception"Does not exceed 100 WhDoes not exceed 20 WhDoes not exceed 2 gDoes not exceed 1 g
Subject to full regulationExceeds 100 WhExceeds 20 WhExceeds 2 gExceeds 1 g
Subject to "smaller battery exception" by highway or railDoes not exceed 300 WhDoes not exceed 60 WhDoes not exceed 25 gDoes not exceed 5 g
Regulation:  Manufactured Under a Quality Management Program:

Applicability:

  • PHMSA/USDOT:  no
  • IATA:  yes
  • IMO:  yes
  • USPS:  no, “All packaging must meet all applicable requirements specified in 49 CFR 173.185.”

And…

  • All lithium cells and batteries regardless of lithium content or Watt-hour rating.
  • It is the responsibility of the shipper of the lithium cell or battery to ensure compliance with this regulation.

What it Requires:

Lithium cell or battery must be manufactured under a quality management program that includes:

  1. A description of the organizational structure and responsibilities of personnel with regard to design and product quality.
  2. The relevant inspection and test, quality control, quality assurance and process operation instructions that will be used.
  3. Process controls that should include relevant activities to prevent and detect internal short circuit failure during manufacture of cells.
  4. Quality records, such as inspection reports, test data, calibration data and certificates.  Test data must be kept and made available to the appropriate national authority upon request.
  5. Management reviews to ensure the effective operation of the quality management program.
  6. A process for control of documents and their revision.
  7. A means for control of cells or batteries that are not conforming to the UN criteria (referred to earlier in this article).
  8. Training programs and qualification procedures for relevant personnel.
  9. Procedures to ensure that there is no damage to the final product.

Also…

  • An in-house quality management program may be accepted.
  • Third party certification of the quality management program is not required.
  • The procedures listed above (1 – 9) must be properly recorded and traceable.
  • A copy of the quality management program must be made available to the appropriate national authority (i.e. USDOT within the U.S.) upon request.

Comments:

  • Interestingly, there is no reference to the quality management program, or anything like it, in the Hazardous Materials Regulations of PHMSA/USDOT.
  • The reference in the last bullet point to “a copy of…” the quality management program implies that it be in the form of a document.
  • The requirements of the quality management program listed above (1 – 9) are almost verbatim as they appear in the dangerous goods regulations of IATA and IMO.  I could find no way to summarize them.

Contact me with any questions you may have about the transportation of hazardous materials by air, highway, vessel, or rail

International and Domestic

Daniels Training Services, Inc.

815.821.1550

Info@DanielsTraining.com

http://www.danielstraining.com/

There you have it!  As a shipper of lithium cells or batteries, don’t overlook the general requirements of the regulations and focus solely on the packaging requirements.  Compliance with these general requirements is what makes the safe transportation of lithium cells and batteries possible.