North updates on lithium-ion batteries

North P&I, like American Club last week, has highlighted the hazards associated with lithium-ion batteries – a problem North first featured in Signals 92 in 2013.

“Recent events suggest that the hazard still exists – the recall and banning of certain Samsung devices and two fires on board container ships”, said North this week.

Lithium-ion batteries have a high ‘energy density’ a high energy output in relation to their weight when compared to other types of batteries. The IMDG code states that lithium-ion batteries may cause fire due to an explosive rupture of the body caused by improper construction or reaction with contaminants.

North P&I reminds its Members that lithium-ion batteries as cargo must be carried in strict accordance with the IMDG code. The dangerous goods can be either the batteries only (UN 3480) or the batteries when in equipment or packed with equipment (UN3481).

It lists several important factors, including:

1. The transport of lithium-ion batteries is subject to regulations based on various industry standards including BS EN 62281 Safety of primary and secondary lithium cells and batteries during transport, and UN DOT 38.3, recommendations on the transport of dangerous goods, manual of tests and Criteria.

2. All Lithium-ion batteries must undergo mechanical and electrical tests which simulate the effects of transportation.

3. Lithium-ion batteries which have been transportation tested and have a possible stored energy of >100Wh must be transported as class 9 dangerous goods.

4. There are restrictions on the number and size of lithium-ion batteries which can be transported by air.