Lithium Battery Developments in the Law and the Lab

18 January 2016

Lithium batteries made significant headlines this month and members whose products use them may be impacted by new developments.

New Standards for Batteries-In-Flight
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council has approved new requirements for the air transportation of lithium batteries. The new mandatory regulations go into effect April 1 and may impact air-freighted shipments of toys containing lithium-Ion batteries.

These updates include:

  • Lithium-ion batteries can only be shipped at 30 percent state of charge. This does not apply to batteries packed with or contained in equipment.
  • Lithium ion batteries and lithium metal batteries will be restricted to no more than one package per consignment.
  • Overpacks may contain no more than one Section II package - 8 cells or 2 batteries - (batteries only).
  • Lithium battery shipments (batteries only) must be shipped separately from other cargo.

These amendments are detailed in a lithium battery update document and guidance materials found on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) web site.

The updated guidelines come after the Department of Transportation issued a safety alert on the transportation of hover boards reminding shippers that products such as hover boards are classified as “UN3171, Battery-powered vehicles, Class 9” and the lithium batteries in the hover boards must be tested in accordance with the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria to ensure compliance. IATA issued guidance for importers and shippers of hover boards and other similar products.

A Battery that Chills Out
In an unrelated story, Computerworld reported last week that Stanford University researchers have developed a self-aware lithium battery. 

According to the article, a polyethylene film is used in the battery “to shut down as it begins to overheat, potentially meaning the types of catastrophic fires seen in hoverboards, laptops and airliners could become a thing of the past.”

Beyond the safety issues described above, the Toy Industry Association continues to monitor a number of related announcements that affect the toy industry and will continue to update its members as new information becomes available.

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