Lithium batteries are being used more and more as technology grows and they are becoming more heavily regulated.
Lithium batteries must be transported as dangerous goods and so they must follow the relevant mode regulations. This topic summarises the requirements for the transport of lithium ion and lithium metal batteries by road, considering some of the differences for the transport by air.
Lithium batteries when transported, must follow the relevant legislation for the mode of transport:
for road — the European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR)
for rail — the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail (RID) have been long in development
for air — the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Technical Instructions (TI) for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations
for sea — the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code)
Each transport mode and dangerous cargo carries its own inherent risk. There are international rules for transport by land, sea, inland waterway and air, which are co-ordinated by the UN. Directive 2008/68/EC on the inland transport of dangerous goods (ITDGD) requires Member States to apply the provisions of ADR (road) and RID (rail), and if applicable, ADN (inland waterway) to domestic transport, subject to some national derogations and additional provisions.
Identification and classification
Due to the hazards associated with lithium batteries, there have been a number of changes to transport legislation over the past few years. Lithium batteries are articles and are now assigned their own UN numbers:
UN 3090 — lithium metal batteries (including lithium alloy batteries)
UN 3091 — lithium metal batteries contained in equipment, or lithium metal batteries packed with equipment (including lithium alloy batteries)
UN 3480 — lithium ion batteries (including lithium ion polymer batteries)
UN 3481 — lithium ion batteries contained in equipment, or lithium ion batteries packed with equipment (including lithium ion polymer batteries)
UN 3536 — lithium batteries installed in cargo transport unit lithium ion batteries or lithium metal batteries.
All lithium batteries are Class 9 — miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles. All batteries must be tested and meet the criteria as stated in the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, Manual of Tests and Criteria Part III subsection 38.3.
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