Once again lithium batteries are in the news. The FAA is proposing a worldwide laptop ban in checked bags on international flights. Tests conducted by the FAA have concluded that when large electronics like laptops overheat in checked luggage, they run the risk of combustion when packed with aerosol canisters like hairspray and dry shampoo. As a result, the potential for explosion becomes a danger to the entire aircraft. The risks are certainly a lot higher if your lithium battery device does in fact catch fire on an airplane, but what exactly is the reason lithium batteries catch fire and what should you do if your device does catch fire during your daily routine?
What is Thermal Runaway?
Previously I wrote a blog on how to prevent lithium batteries from catching fire. But why exactly do lithium batteries catch fire? Lithium-ion and lithium-metal cells are known to undergo a process called thermal runaway during failure conditions. Thermal runaway results in a rapid increase of battery cell temperature and pressure, accompanied by the release of flammable gas. These flammable gases will often be ignited by the battery’s high temperature, resulting in a fire similar to the video below.
Another major reason behind thermal runaway is other microscopic metal particles coming in touch with different parts of the battery, resulting in a short-circuit.
Anyone who ships by air these days can relate to the frustrations associated with shipping lithium batteries.
A gentleman (let’s call him Jack for reference purposes) was given our contact information by Air Canada to get his motorcycle declaration completed. I provided Jack with the shipper’s declaration and he was able to ship his motorcycle with Air Canada. Jack is moving to Faro, Portugal (yes, I am jealous too!) and he is shipping all his personal effects. The broker that is helping Jack with shipping his belongings told him lithium batteries (his power drills) are dangerous goods and Jack needed to remove them, which he did.
Unfortunately the broker didn’t provide Jack with any directions on how he can ship them. So, when Jack went to drop off his motorcycle to Air Canada he asked about shipping his power drills and Air Canada cargo folks told him it’s DG and he needs to get it prepared for transport, and to call Air Canada (yes, you need to call the 1-800 number) for more information. Of course Jack did and Air Canada told him they can accept the shipment as long it’s prepared for air transport. That’s where I come in.
What Are Jack’s Options?
Jack then called me back. He said to me, “You seem to know what you are talking about when Continue Reading…
An iconic show from the 1980’s was “The A-Team”. It was about a group of former military men who worked to help those in need by using their former skill set. A famous line from it was often said by John “Hannibal” Smith, played by George Peppard. At the end of many episodes he would say, “I love it when a plan comes together”. With the publication of Transport Canada’s Amendment TDGR SOR2017 – 137, we finally have a plan coming together for the transportation of Lithium Batteries.
Finally, all transport regulations – 49 CFR, TDG, IATA .and IMDG – are on the same page regarding the necessary marks and labels needed for transporting Lithium Batteries. All of the regulations even have the same transition times for when the new Class 9 Lithium Battery Hazard Class Label and new Lithium Battery Mark will be mandatory.
One of my favorite cartoons growing up was “Scooby Doo”. Nothing made me laugh more than when Scooby would say, “Ruh roh, Raggy” when he was trying to say, “Uh oh, Shaggy”. This was usually in situations where things had gone terribly wrong. I had one of those moments recently and it was in regards to lithium batteries.
In one of my recent training classes, we were digging into the IATA Shipper’s Declaration and how to complete it. Anyone that handles these knows there are lots of things to include. As the discussion moved to the “Nature and Quantity of Goods” section, we were cruising. Everyone understood the process and how great IATA is about explaining what goes where. The examples in Chapter 8 are awesome!
The “Ruh roh” moment came as we were discussing the inclusion of the Packing Instruction number. Most of us are familiar with the first part of that step. It tells us that for all of our shipments, we add the number of the Packing Instruction we followed for said shipment. In Section 126.96.36.199.3 of IATA, it says the following:
Step 8. Number of Packing Instruction or Limited Quantity Packing Instruction (with its “Y” prefix) (Columns G, I or K). For lithium batteries prepared in accordance with Section IB of Packing Instruction 965 or Packing Instruction 968 the letters “IB” must be added Continue Reading…
On March 25, 2017, the United States government implemented a ban on passengers bringing carry-on electronic devices such as laptops on board certain airlines. This ban will affect electronics that exceed the size of a cellphone—typical products that will be banned include laptop computers, tablets such as the iPad and Android versions, gaming devices larger than a cellphone, DVD players, and portable printers and scanners. These devices may still be carried by travelers, but must be stowed in checked luggage during the flight. Medical devices will be exempted from the restrictions.
The ban affects flights leaving from ten airports in eight Middle Eastern countries.
Airports Involved in the Ban:
Abu Dhabi International Airport, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
Cairo International Airport, Cairo, Egypt
Dubai International Airport, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar
King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Kuwait International Airport, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Mohammed V Airport, Casablanca, Morocco
Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan
The ban affects flights of the following airlines leaving from any airports listed above:
Royal Air Maroc
Royal Jordanian Airlines
The ban is intended to only apply to direct flights from these locations to the U.S., which would total just about 50 flights a day. Continue Reading…
As the cold weather comes to an end (hopefully sooner rather than later) and we turn the corner and head into spring, we will realize that we have our work cut out for us in our backyards. Once the snow melts and the reality sets in that we have a lawn and garden that will need attention, into our sheds and garages we will go to dust off our battery or gas powered lawn equipment to get the job done. Using the lawn equipment may seem pretty straightforward, but we must realize that this equipment is powered by gasoline and lithium-ion batteries, which if not stored and used correctly, or under the wrong circumstances, can be quite dangerous. Below are some safety tips for gasoline and battery powered lawn equipment.
Safety Tips for Gasoline Powered Lawn Equipment:
Store gasoline in an approved container or tank. Keep gasoline containers tightly closed and handle them gently to avoid spills.
Gasoline is a flammable liquid and should be stored at room temperature, away from potential heat sources such as the sun, a hot water heater, space heater, or a furnace, and a least 50 feet away from ignition sources, such as pilot lights. Gasoline vapors are heavier than air and can travel along the floor to ignition sources.
Both 49 CFR and TDG are expecting to harmonize lithium battery labels into the regulations; however, both regulations are pending. HM-215N (49 CFR) was recalled, and will not be reissued for at least 60 days.
Transport Canada has not provided an ETA on the harmonization.
One of my favorite episodes of the show Seinfeld is the one where worlds collide. In the episode Elaine asks George’s girlfriend Susan to a show. On the surface this seems harmless. According to Kramer, this is a bad thing because when George’s “sanctuary world” and his “girlfriend world” collide there will be an explosion.
I had a case of my worlds colliding over the holidays. Let’s see what the results were. The attached pictures are from a leaf blower my husband received as a Christmas gift. It is a nice gift that will help us with yard work in the future. The description on the box says it comes with a charger for the included 40 volt, 2.0 ampere-hour rechargeable lithium-ion battery. On the back was the Lithium battery handling information. I didn’t pay much attention to it due to being in a cookie coma from the holidays.
Upon arrival home and while unloading the car, my husband noticed the information on the box and pointed it out to me. He then asks, “Should this be on here?” Needless to say, once we were fully unpacked I grabbed my regulations just to see.
Using the information on the box let’s review some points for shipping Lithium-ion batteries. Bear in mind this was purchased at a store where it was on the shelf. I have no way of knowing if it was shipped in this box.
If there is one thing most of us have in common, it is how often we come in contact with items that use lithium-ion batteries. Whether it’s a laptop computer, cellphone, camera, or even an electronic cigarette, we rely on lithium ion batteries for many different purposes. Unfortunately for some consumers, when lithium-ion batteries fail, they do in devastating fashion. When a lithium battery explodes, it can cause a fire that generates temperatures up to 1000° F and can cause severe 3rd degree burns as the video below demonstrates.
What can we do to prevent such a catastrophic event from occurring while we utilize these everyday items that use lithium-ion batteries? Below is a list of safety tips when using items with lithium-ion batteries.
Lithium Battery Safety Tips
Only use the charger that came with your device. If you need to buy a new one, make sure the replacement is recommended for the use of your device by the manufacturer. Just because a charger fits in your device doesn’t mean that it is safe to use.
Do not overcharge your device. It is recommended that once your device is fully charged that you should unplug it.
Keep your device out of extremely high or low temperature locations. Do not place the battery in direct sunshine, or store the battery inside cars in significant hot Continue Reading…
An expanded recall of laptop computer battery packs for Panasonic battery packs used in Toshiba laptop computers was made on Wednesday January 4th, 2017.
The lithium-ion battery packs can overheat and cause burns and fire hazards.
This expanded recall involves Panasonic lithium-ion battery packs installed in 41 models of Toshiba Satellite laptops, including the Satellite models affected by the March 2016 recall. Toshiba has expanded the number of battery packs to include those sold between June 2011 and November 2016. The battery packs also were sold separately and installed by Toshiba as part of a repair. Battery packs included in this recall have part numbers that begin with G71C (G71C*******). Part numbers are printed on the battery pack.
If your battery pack is part of the recall, power off the laptop, remove the battery and follow the instructions to obtain a free replacement battery pack. Until a replacement battery pack is received, you should use the laptop by plugging into AC power only. Battery packs previously identified as not affected by the March 30, 2016 recall are included in this expanded announcement.
To see if your device is eligible for exchange, go to http://go.toshiba.com/battery or call Toshiba America Information Systems toll-free at 866-224-1346 any day between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. PT.