View Full Version : Lithium Batteries - info please

16th May 2014, 07:30
Pardon aviation content :ok: This week I ordered a Lithium battery for my motorbike (from here: SSB PowerSport > Products (http://www.ssbpowersport.com.au/products.aspx) link provided in case anyone needs to access tech details).

It arrived the next day by Australia Post Express Satchel. It would have had to come by air from Adelaide as it it physically not possible for a land vehicle to drive that distance overnight (approx 2,500km).

This is how it was packed:

and this was inside the double-layer of bubble wrap:

and inside the box:

My 2-part question to those more knowledgeable on battery technology and aviation safety is: would you consider that this complies with the "no dangerous goods" declaration that the sender signed off on; and do you think this constitutes a safety hazard.

16th May 2014, 07:55
Hi David

Allow me to answer your question in 3 parts -

No & No

Worrals in the wilds
16th May 2014, 09:06
Now you've received your package you can ask the question...:suspect::}
My understanding was that lithium batteries are only a potential problem if they're bulk packed together, in which case they can combust...:eek: That's from memory though, I'd have to look up the actual regs.

For a while even shipping a watch was a problem (due to the battery) but I thought that had been resolved.

Takan Inchovit
16th May 2014, 09:12
I thought the dream-burner had them installed as standard. I guess if your arse starts getting a tad warm riding the bike, then ...

16th May 2014, 09:17
lithium batteries are only a potential problem
Especially if you reverse the charges for ohm delivery.

Takan Inchovit
16th May 2014, 09:24
Thats got potential.

16th May 2014, 09:31
Lithium batteries are only an issue if the a) are short circuited or over heated and discharge rapidly or b) the voltage drops below 2V and runs away. The "bulk shipment" is more a case of preventing a chain reaction if one goes off, because they are difficult to put out if they catch fire.

The primary package is intact, so it was probably suitable for the task. As for the declaration, the outer package probably doesn't meet the regs. The amount of Lithium probably doesn't meet limit to require the Dangerous Goods act, but there should still be a bit more packaging.

16th May 2014, 10:26
Thanks for the input. Obviously I got the package OK and no planes were harmed in the delivery thereof :ok: My concern was along the lines of potential damage due to rough handling or dropping and any potential lithium battery reaction/fire as a result.

As a side issue, I am amazed at how light it is - only about a quarter the weight of the AGM battery it replaces. Should improve my personal best to our regular Saturday breakfast venue by at least 10 seconds :=

16th May 2014, 10:35
Without either boring you or trying to be condescending everything I, as an RAF ALM needed to know with regards to the transportation of Lithium Batteries by Air was contained here

IATA - Lithium Batteries (http://www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/dgr/Pages/lithium-batteries.aspx)

hopefully your answer lies within :ok:

16th May 2014, 10:41
Sffp :ok: :)

16th May 2014, 11:30
How many people using the Express Post service are actually qualified to sign the DG declaration?

No one I ever ask at the PO actually knows what legally constitutes a "dangerous good."


dubbleyew eight
16th May 2014, 12:56
ogre has yet to experience the puncturing of a lithium battery it seems.

16th May 2014, 14:57
"My concern was along the lines of potential damage due to rough handling or dropping"

Or being run over by a forklift or trolley wheel, breaking the packaging
and damaging the battery inside.

16th May 2014, 19:18
The big problem is that very, very few people understand the "equivalent lithium metal content" definition in the regs. Lithium batteries don't contain lithium metal, just lithium salts thinly coated on the electrodes. Sure, this can, under pretty hostile conditions, convert to a tiny amount of highly reactive lithium metal, but the real risk (as with any cell or battery capable of high discharge current), is that a cell will short and result in a fire.

To compound things, the passenger cabin of pretty much every passenger aircraft aircraft flying at this moment will have more lithium batteries in it than it will in the freight part of the baggage hold. Virtually every passenger in the cabin will be carrying at least one, more probably two or three, devices with lithium cells. The total of all of these in even a small aircraft is likely to exceed the 3kg mass of that small battery you received.

16th May 2014, 20:20

"Sooner or later these things are going to bring down a passenger plane, there is not the will to ensure
sufficient safeguards of the masses of them now being shipped, largely from the East.

I agree.

Having flown with ammunition and what they make you do with that to keep it safe, I am amazed as the little they do with the batteries.

16th May 2014, 20:41
Good quality lithium batteries are now a heck of a lot safer than back in the days when Youtube was full of daft videos of people banging nails through them for "fun". two years ago I did some tests on some newer lithium cells, to see just how vulnerable they were to mechanical damage. I took a 20Ah pouch cell, overcharged it by around 100% and it did nothing (three or four years ago this would have been a guaranteed recipe for a bang and a fire). Next I drove a big nail through the pack, to see what would happen. There was a puff of smoke, but no fire and nothing dramatic happened. The smoke stopped after a few minutes.

My conclusion was that these newer generation cells were fairly safe, certainly a heck of a lot safer than the earlier generation cells I've used in projects before.

The really big risk is all the uncontrolled stuff coming from the far east, usually China. China is manufacturing massive volumes of very cheap, poor quality, virtually untested, lithium cells, often intended for the model aircraft hobby. these cells are, without a shadow of doubt, bloody dangerous.

The real story here is that good quality lithium cells, from a reputable manufacturer, are at least as safe, probably safer, than a lead acid battery. however, there are large volumes of really dodgy lithium cells around from the far east, so unless you know who you're buying from, and can be assured than they are selling quality assured, relatively safe, cells, then stay well clear.

16th May 2014, 20:43

Re know who you are buying from.

I have seen some very very good copies of named or brand batteries.

You just never know nowadays.

17th May 2014, 04:45
dubbleyew eight - Ogre has seen enough lithium batteries brew up thank you, he also spends quite a bit of his time ensuring the safety of lithium batteries in products to ensure it doesn't happen!

VP959 - Funnily enough, both the latest IEC standard and the US Navy handbook on Lithium batteries still call for the "nail" test to prove the safety of new battery designs. Basically you hammer a nail into a cell, then make sure it doesn't go catastrophic.

In order to run the full battery (!) of tests in the US Navy Lithium battery handbook, you will test 18 of the suckers to desctruction in order to prove the design.

The last time we wanted a new battery design for a product it was going to costs us in excess of $50,000 for one!

17th May 2014, 06:03
large volumes of really dodgy lithium cells around from the far east
Missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was reportedly carrying a cargo of lithium cells to China. :uhoh:

17th May 2014, 07:04
Firstly, there should be a Watt Hours rating somewhere on the battery. This is the first bit of information you need.

If not, multiply Volts by Amp Hours to figure out the Watt Hours. I can't see both of theses figures on your battery to work it out.
Googling this battery I cannot find this information out either.

With the information provided in the photo, and there being no real "rule" to convert any of that into amp-hours; but there being some guesstimations available and by using those the battery is approximately 45 amp-hours; looking at similar batteries this doesn't seem too far off the mark, possibly at the high end.

Now, using that, 12x45=540 watt hours.

The next step is whether it is "contained in equipment" or "packed with equipment" or "packed separately". In this case, it is packed separately.

So, being greater than 100watt hours (if my guesstimate is correct), it requires full declaration as UN3480 and packaging in accordance with PI965 section 1A- which is UN specified packaging and an express post bag is not that!

I really hope my conversion is incorrect, because the shipper has otherwise falsified the non-DG statement and if it had been carried on an aircraft has put that aircraft at risk.

You might think I'm being a bit over the top, but hands up who has actually dealt with a lithium fire in flight?? I havn't, and I don't want to. Having seen them before though under test, they are nasty.

If someone showed up trying to carry this battery on my flight, short of any other real proof it is acceptable (and keeping in mind that my reply has been rather hasty without checking everything), I would REFUSE it's acceptance.

17th May 2014, 07:13

How would you know it was on your flight ?

17th May 2014, 09:40
500n, my last paragraph may not be phrased well, sorry.

i actually have control on what gets loaded on my aircraft, i don't fly for an airline, i fly for a charter company where us as pilots are involved with the checkin and baggage/freight handling.

we always ask relevant dangerous goods questions. Unfortunately, it happens, where DG gets carried with the passenger or person consigning the freight has made a false declaration. Due to a couple of instances of this, our policy is to open all freight items for inspection.

i remember one passenger saying they had nothing dangerous in the freight they handed me. Yet i heard liquid in the box, asked what it was and the reply "oh there's some acid in there"... Dumbf**k!!!

17th May 2014, 10:09
No worries :ok:

17th May 2014, 10:41
@Car - yep, having read the info on watt-hours, and the tech specs on the battery, I couldn't actually find enough info to calculate the watt-hours. I'm taking baseless guesses that the seller (a third party, not the manufacturer) also doesn't know the watt-hours, and further, that they don't have much idea about dangerous goods definitions for sending batteries or other parcels by air. Another baseless guess is that no-one in the organisation would admit to 'owning' the scrawl that is the signature for the DG declaration.

BTW - it is a 12v battery rated at 290CCA. Unfortunately there is no formula that works for converting CCA to amp-hours.

BTW 2: I am not going to conduct a nail test on it := It's in place and starts my motorbike just fine :ok:

17th May 2014, 13:06
The dash number of bike batteriers usually refers to the AmpHr rating, so this battery would be around 4 A/H, or 48 Watt/Hr. ( thats why bike batteries go flat quickly if you forget to turn the key off :ugh::ugh::ugh:)