Identifying Lithium Batteries
Under the Australian Code for Transportation of Dangerous Goods (ADGC) you are permitted to transport Lithium batteries with other mixed chemistries (non lead acid). This is often the case when transporting small portable handheld batteries such as button cell, AA, AAA, C & D size batteries. The problem is being able to easily identify the presence of lithium batteries and few are willing to check the battery labels for hundreds, possibly thousands, of batteries to determine if there are any Lithium Batteries. So how should these be transported?
Our advice is that if in doubt assume the presence of Lithium batteries hence their transport will be treated as a Dangerous Good and you will need to meet the requirements of the ADGC.
What is the difference between Lithium Ion and Lithium Metal Batteries?
Lithium Ion: These batteries are rechargeable lithium batteries such as those used for power tools, mobile phones, laptops, power backups.
Lithium Metal: These batteries are not rechargeable i.e. can only be used once such as some AA & AAA Energizer Lithium batteries. They are much less common than Lithium Ion batteries.
What is the difference between a Cell and a Battery?
The formal definition is “a cell is defined as a single encased electrochemical unit (one positive and one negative electrode) which exhibits a voltage differential across its two terminals and may contain a protective device. A Battery is two or more cells or batteries which are electrically connected together and fitted with devices necessary for use, such as a case, terminals, marking or protective devices (definitions from the UN’s Manual of Tests & Criteria)”
As a rule of thumb the small portable batteries such as button cells, AA, AAA, C, D Size batteries are defined as Cells and the larger forms such as used for computing equipment, mobiles, power tools and other larger batteries are defined as Batteries.
How do I determine the power rating (Wh) of a Lithium Ion battery?
For most Lithium Ion cells (i.e. Button cells, AA, AAA, C & D size batteries) the power rating will not exceed 20Wh.
For Lithium Ion Batteries most handheld batteries such as those used for power tools, mobiles & laptops won’t exceed 100Wh.
Larger non handheld Lithium batteries such as those used in vehicles or for power back up will exceed the 100Wh power rating.
If you’re unsure check the battery’s label or safety data sheet.
How do I determine the Lithium content for a Lithium Metal battery?
For most Lithium Metal Cells (i.e. non rechargeable AA, AAA, C & D size batteries) the Lithium content will not exceed 1g. If you are unsure you are unlikely to find this information on the battery’s label. Your best bet is to check the battery’s safety data sheet.
For Lithium Metal Batteries it is recommended you check the battery’s safety data sheet to determine if the Lithium content exceeds the Lithium content of 2g or not.