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Transport restrictions

Japan Airlines Boeing 787 lithium cobalt oxide battery that caught fire in 2013

IATA estimates that over a billion lithium cells are flown each year. In January 2008, the United States Department of Transportation ruled that passengers on commercial aircraft could carry lithium batteries in their checked baggage if the batteries were installed in a device. Types of batteries covered by this rule are those containing small amounts of lithium, including Li-ion, lithium polymer, and lithium cobalt oxide chemistries. Lithium-ion batteries containing more than 25 grams (0.88 oz) equivalent lithium content (ELC) are forbidden in air travel. This restriction is due to the possibility of batteries short-circuiting and causing a fire.

Additionally, a limited number of replacement batteries may be transported in carry-on luggage. Such batteries must be sealed in their original protective packaging or in individual containers or plastic bags.

Some postal administrations restrict air shipping (including EMS) of lithium and lithium-ion batteries, either separately or installed in equipment. Such restrictions apply in Hong Kong, Australia and Japan.

On 16 May 2012, United States Postal Service (USPS) banned shipping anything containing a lithium battery to an overseas address due to fires resulting from transport of batteries. Because of this restriction, it became difficult to send anything containing lithium batteries to military personnel overseas, as the USPS was the only method of shipment to these addresses. The ban was lifted on 15 November 2012

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner contains lithium cobalt oxide batteries which are more reactive than newer types of batteries such as LiFePo.


Researchers are working to improve the power density, safety, recharge cycle, cost and other characteristics of these batteries.

Solid-state designs have the potential to deliver three times the energy density of typical 2011 lithium-ion batteries at less than half the cost per kilowatt-hour. This approach eliminates binders, separators, and liquid electrolytes. By eliminating these, "you can get around 95% of the theoretical energy density of the active materials."

Earlier trials of this technology encountered cost barriers, because the semiconductor industry's vacuum deposition technology cost 2030 times too much. The new process deposits semiconductor-quality films from a solution. The nanostructured films grow directly on a substrate and then sequentially on top of each other. The process allows the firm to "spray-paint a cathode, then a separator/electrolyte, then the anode. It can be cut and stacked in various form factors."

Washington State University researchers expect to bring to market before June 2013 a tin anode technology that will triple the energy capacity of lithium ion batteries. The technology involves using standard electroplating process to create tin nanoneedles.

Sandia has studied ways to improve safety and robustness of lithium ion batteries by using different electrolytes and separators.

Date: 2015-12-11; view: 1628

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