What are the hazards associated with transporting lithium batteries?

As described by Transport Canada, Lithium batteries fall into the same category as gasoline, propane and sulphuric acid and, as such, are considered to be ‘dangerous goods’. Here are the hazards associated with transporting lithium batteries :

Thermal runaway

Propagation from cell to cell, battery to battery, box to box where heat produced can ignite normal combustibles.

Flammable electrolyte

Contributes to the fire and speeds propagation of thermal runaway.

Flammable gases and explosion

A cell in thermal runaway produces a mix of gases, many of which are flammable, including hydrocarbons and hydrogen. When contained, an explosive mixture can occur.

Explosive cells

Certain cell chemistries and cell construction combinations can result in explosions when heated. These include, but are not limited to thionyl chloride, manganese dioxide and iron phosphate.

Pressure pulse

All cells in thermal runaway produce a pressure pulse, some much more forceful than others. The larger the cell size, generally, the larger the pulse.

Large Format cells & batteries

External fires

When a shipment size exceeds a certain number of cells, the effect of external fire exposure needs to be examined. The external fire hazard is somewhat mitigated by shipping in Class C compartment but not eliminated.

Halon 1301 consumption & leakage

Cells in thermal runaway produce pressure and gases that are released into the cargo compartment. This pressure and volume of gases will cause increased leakage of Halon 1301 from the compartment reducing the effectiveness of the agent and length of time that the compartment is protected.

Our technology, Lithium Prevent is a unique, proprietary intumescent, fire resistant, polymer composite technology that is injection moulded to form fire resistant battery pack components that contain the spread of runaway lithium batteries in a wide range of applications. Learn more about the science and innovation behind Lithium Prevent, and how it can help improve safety in your industry.


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