Lithium-Ion Batteries and Their Shipping Restrictions
Think back to the last time you shipped something, be it via USPS, FedEx, or UPS. Do you recall being asked about the contents of your package? It’s a routine procedure for the clerk at any of these shipping services to inquire about whether you’re shipping something that might be potentially hazardous. One type of item that falls under this category is the lithium ion type of battery.
Aside from this routine question at the shipping service checkout, many of us have been made aware of the potential hazards of Li-ion batteries thanks to the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall. Thanks to a rushed shipping process and various manufacturing problems, users a number of defective Samsung phones spontaneously catching fire. Most people had never given much thought to the battery powering their phone -- but this frightening turn of events made people take notice. How could a simple battery catch fire of its own accord?
Of course, this question isn’t just a matter of idle curiosity. If your organization needs to purchase a number of devices that contain lithium ion batteries, or if you’re looking to order new Li-ion batteries to replace old batteries in some of your devices, you’ll want to know what that entails. In this blog post, we’ll discuss:
● What causes lithium ion batteries to explode
● Shipping restrictions for Li-ion batteries
● Cost of shipping lithium ion batteries
● Where to order replacement batteries
Let’s get started.
Why Do Lithium-Ion Batteries Explode?
First and foremost, you’re probably wondering what it is that causes lithium batteries to explode. Was it just something faulty with the Samsung Galaxy phones? Or, is there a similar risk associated with all devices that contain this type of battery?
Lithium ion batteries can catch fire as a result of a process known as “thermal runaway.” Thermal runaway occurs when a series of shorts and/or chemical reactions are triggered inside the battery cell. This process is generally initiated due to excessive amounts of heat (either from inside the battery cell itself or coming from outside the cell). The chemical reactions occurring inside the battery then begin to generate additional heat, which causes further chemical reactions. This chain of events continues until all the battery’s reactive agents have been “used up” in the process.
Thermal runaway can exhibit in different ways. Sometimes you’ll see a battery smoldering, and other times it will catch fire.
What Shipping Restrictions Exist for Lithium Ion Batteries?
Faulty manufacturing can indeed increase the risk of thermal runaway in lithium ion batteries. In the case of the Samsung Galaxy phones, for example, inadequate insulation may have contributed to excessive heat, thereby triggering the process. However, it’s not just poor construction that can cause this problem. In fact, thermal runaway can occur in any lithium battery cell.
As a result, a number of shipping restrictions have been put into place with UPS, FedEx, and USPS. While the restrictions vary slightly from one shipping service to the next, all are in compliance with new regulations introduced by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In general, there are a few things to keep in mind.
● Packaging: Lithium ion batteries can be sent inside the devices they’re intended to power, outside the devices (but in the same package), or separately packaged. When shipped inside of a device, they must be adequately protected from damage, and the device must be packaged in such a way as to prevent it from turning-on mid-shipment. Batteries shipped outside of a device or in separate packaging must be thoroughly protected and cushioned, and in the latter case must be in the original sealed packaging from the manufacturer.
● Labeling: Packages containing devices with lithium ion batteries and/or batteries being shipped separately must be appropriately labeled. This means clearly stating on the outside of the package that the package contains one or more lithium ion batteries.
● Documentation: It’s common practice for some shipments to be accompanied by special documentation. This documentation explains how the package should be handled in the event that it’s damaged, along with instructions regarding inspection and repackaging.
● Shipping Services: Generally speaking, air transportation of lithium ion batteries is only allowed when the batteries are either shipped inside of their respective devices, or in the same package accompanying the device they power. However, lithium ion batteries typically cannot be shipped via air mail in separate packaging without accompanying devices.
● Number of Batteries: When shipping lithium ion batteries along with the equipment they power, the number of batteries is limited to the number required to power the corresponding equipment. Additionally, there may be restrictions as to the number of batteries packaged in one box.
● Weight Limit and Dangerous Goods Contract: Shipping services generally have weight limits for lithium ion battery shipments. For example, USPS has a weight limit of 11 lbs for batteries shipped inside or accompanying equipment and 5 lbs for batteries shipped separately. For UPS, the equivalent weight limits are 5 kg and 2.5 kg. If the weight limit is exceeded with UPS, the shipment will require a UPS Dangerous Goods contract. This involves the shipper acknowledging that they’ve properly followed various regulations and guidelines in preparing the package(s) for shipment, that their employees are properly trained regarding the packaging of lithium ion batteries, and so on.
Does It Cost More to Ship Lithium Ion Batteries?
Yes, it typically costs more to ship lithium ion batteries. Shipping services must take extra care when shipping Li-ion batteries, and the additional paperwork involved contributes to the cost as well.
Lithium-Ion Batteries from a Supplier You Can Trust
When ordering replacement batteries for your organization’s devices, it’s important to work with a supplier you can trust. Integrity Global Solutions’ highly trained staff will package your lithium ion battery order to ensure safe shipping. We stock a wide variety of replacement batteries for HP Smart Array Controllers, HP ProLiant Servers , and Dell PowerEdge Servers , such as the HP 307132-001, HP 398648-001, HP 660093-001, and Dell NU209 batteries.
If you’re replacing existing lithium ion batteries, it’s essential to dispose of old batteries properly. Not sure how to do that? Confused about where to find the replacement battery? Don’t worry: IGS is here to help. Contact us now via our online form , or use our chat feature to speak with a knowledgeable representative right away.