Australian Battery Recycling Initiative
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Restrictions on transporting lithium batteries by air

Posted on: March 4th, 2014

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) hosted the first International Multidisciplinary Lithium Battery Transport Coordination Meeting from 4-6 February in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The meeting considered new air transport restrictions on lithium metal batteries.

The meeting received a presentation on tests that were undertaken to investigate the characteristics of battery fires in a realistic aircraft environment. These demonstrated the dangers of bulk shipments of lithium metal batteries. The most commonly used fire suppressant (Halon 1301) on passenger aircraft is ineffective in dealing with fires involving lithium metal batteries.

The meeting recommended that the carriage of lithium metal batteries as cargo should be further restricted. Options for restrictions will be considered and decided upon by the Dangerous Goods Panel at their meeting on 7-11 April 2014. Options include:
– a total prohibition on lithium batteries in passenger aircraft
– development of conditions that would support an approval process, where the types, quantities and packaging containing lithium metal batteries would not allow a fire to propagate beyond the packaging or adversely affect flight safety
– permission to transport limited lithium metal batteries based on performance criteria for packaging.