As air travel continues to be an integral part of our lives, it’s crucial to stay informed about safety regulations, especially when it comes to lithium batteries. The FDA’s PackSafe regulations are designed to ensure the safe transportation of lithium batteries, power banks, cell phone battery charging cases, and various other rechargeable and non-rechargeable lithium battery-powered devices. In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide to these regulations, making it easier for you to navigate the do’s and don’ts when traveling with lithium batteries.
Lithium batteries are an integral part of our modern, tech-driven lives. From smartphones to laptops and power banks, these batteries are found in many of our daily devices. While they are required to undergo safety testing, it’s essential to be aware of the inherent risks associated with them.
One of the key concerns is the possibility of thermal runaway. This process can occur without warning and is characterized by a rapid increase in battery cell temperature and pressure, leading to the release of flammable gases. Thermal runaway can be triggered by factors such as physical damage, exposure to extreme temperatures, contact with water, overcharging, and improper packing. In some cases, it can even happen due to manufacturing defects.
Flight Crews and Lithium Battery Fires
Flight crews are trained to recognize and respond to lithium battery fires in the cabin. Passengers play a crucial role in air travel safety as well. If your lithium battery or device starts overheating, expanding, smoking, or burning, it’s imperative to notify the flight crew immediately. Quick action can help prevent potential incidents from escalating.
PackSafe Regulations for Carrying Lithium Batteries
Here’s a breakdown of the key PackSafe regulations that passengers need to be aware of when traveling with lithium batteries:
Carry-On Requirement: Spare (uninstalled) lithium ion and lithium metal batteries, power banks, and cell phone battery charging cases must be carried in your carry-on baggage. These batteries should never be placed in checked-in bags.
Size Limits: Lithium metal (non-rechargeable) batteries are limited to 2 grams of lithium per battery. Lithium ion (rechargeable) batteries are limited to a rating of 100 watt hours (Wh) per battery. These size limits cover most types of lithium batteries used in everyday electronic devices.
Quantity Limits: Most batteries have no specific quantity limits, but they must be intended for personal use. Batteries carried for resale or distribution purposes are prohibited. However, for larger lithium ion batteries (101–160 Wh per battery) or lithium metal batteries (2-8 grams), passengers may carry a maximum of two spare batteries.
Battery Protection: Batteries must be adequately protected from damage during your journey. Battery terminals, typically found at the ends, should be safeguarded from short-circuit risks. Methods for protection include keeping batteries in their retail packaging, covering terminals with tape, using a battery case, or placing them securely in a plastic bag or protective pouch.
Safety Precautions for Damaged Batteries
Damaged or recalled batteries and battery-powered devices that may generate sparks or dangerous heat must not be carried aboard an aircraft, whether in carry-on or checked baggage. It’s essential to remove or safely address any damaged or recalled batteries before traveling. Airlines may provide further guidance on transporting individual recalled products.
Calculating Battery Wh Rating
Newer lithium ion batteries have the Wh (Watt-hour) rating marked on them. To calculate Wh, multiply the battery voltage by the Amp hours (Ah).
By understanding and following these PackSafe regulations, you can ensure your air travel is not only convenient but, more importantly, safe. Whether you’re carrying a smartphone, laptop, or power bank, these guidelines are designed to make your journey secure and trouble-free. Safe travels!