Batteries are very common today in portable electronics, tools and other applications. But did you know that they can become a source of dangerous heat, sparks or fire if they are improperly packaged for shipping? For this reason, Estes customers must follow applicable safety regulations and appropriate precautions when preparing batteries for transportation. Battery shipments may be subject to both U.S. and international safety regulations, and because of the potential dangers associated with violations of those regulations, people who do not follow the regulations when packing their shipments could be subject to fines, other penalties or liability issues.
In some cases, such as with alkaline or certain nonspillable lead-acid batteries, your responsibilities may be limited to simple steps such as: selecting strong outer packaging; carefully protecting battery terminals to prevent sparking or short circuit; and carefully preparing the interior package components to keep tools or other metal objects away from batteries.
Other types of batteries, including lithium ion and lithium metal types, may be fully regulated as hazardous materials (also known as dangerous goods) for transportation, so that in addition to those basic safety precautions they require use of specialized packaging, specific hazard labeling, and documents certifying compliance with the applicable regulations.
A major risk of shipping lithium batteries is short-circuit of a battery or inadvertent activation while in transport. All batteries should be packed to eliminate the possibility of a short-circuit or activation (see Figure 5 for an example). Ensure no batteries can come in contact with other batteries, conductive surfaces or metal objects while in transport.
“Wh” stands for “watt-hour.” It is a measure used to indicate the energy capacity of a lithium ion cell or battery.
This term refers to the percentage of the electrical stored capacity in a rechargeable cell or battery (e.g., lithium ion cells or batteries) that is available for use. A fully charged lithium ion battery has a 100% state of charge (SOC). Research has demonstrated that for lithium ion batteries, reduced SOC may provide an additional level of safety during transport and reduce the likelihood of a thermal event. Effective April 1, 2016, all lithium ion batteries (without equipment) shipped by air must not exceed 30% SOC.
A button battery is a small round battery where the height is less than the diameter also commonly referred to as “coin batteries.” Examples can be found in watches, calculators, electronic clocks, toys and other applications.