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Lithium Ion battery packaging

Shipping Batteries.

UN3480 battery cases

If you need to ship lithium ion batteries – and with their use in vehicles, tools and consumer devices becoming ever more prevalent – it is important you use correctly specified, UN 3480 approved lithium battery packaging / cases.

High energy density & fire risk has led to strict legislation on transit of batteries of this type. However, Zarges aluminium battery cases, with specialist GWP manufactured flame resistant Plastazote foam, can meet the required standards for shipping lithium batteries internationally and / or domestically.

01: Key Benefits of Zarges Battery Boxes.

Why your business should use correctly specified battery shipping cases

With recycling, disposal and transporting lithium ion batteries now subject to strict safety rules and legislation, using the correct packaging has become critical to any business this affects.

The benefits of utilising Zarges cases (also referred to as “Akku boxes” – being German for battery) with appropriate inserts for this purpose are as follows.

However, for specific requirements, testing and achieving certification for damaged lithium ion battery shipping, speaking with a representative at GWP is advised.

Features and benefits of Zarges lithium battery shipping boxes at a glance

  • Approved for transporting lithium batteries by road, air and sea
  • Available with fabric inserts featuring intumescent (foaming when heated) coating
  • Also supplied with flame resistant foam inserts to also provide enhanced impact protection
  • Standard case with 2 aluminium dividers for up to 3 batteries of up to 500 Wh
  • Easily re-sealable allowing for flexibility
  • Successfully fire tested, with flames contained and not spreading to adjacent batteries
  • Exterior case temperature at the container surface remains below 100°C
  • Tested and meets UN3481, UN3480 and UN3090  class 9 goods requirements
  • High level of stability and impact resistance due to 3 fully-welded aluminium profile frames.
  • Easy to use, with quick loading and unloading
  • Designed for approximately 100 uses / trips when shipping lithium batteries by air / ground
What GWP Protective customers say

In an emergency, a dangerous goods case must be able to absorb the energy release through a fire. The Zarges K470 Battery Box case’s proven safety in case of a fire offers a solution to all manufacturers and retailers needing to transport lithium-ion batteries safely.

Michael Blum | Zarges Product Manager

02: Why Zarges Aluminium Cases?

Choosing appropriate lithium ion battery packaging / cases

Lithium ion batteries are the power source for ever greater numbers of products. From simple consumer products such as phones and MP3 players, to batteries for industrial equipment and even electrical cars and vehicles, the numbers in use are growing exponentially.

This is due to their efficiency, cost and performance.

Zarges battery boxes
Zarges battery boxes have been extensively tested to ensure they meet all regulations related to lithium battery packaging

However, with greater use has come increased reports of safety incidents, due to both the high “densities” of energy they can contain, plus an increased risk of combustion and fires. This has seen a significant increase in issues when shipping lithium ion batteries by air (both aboard planes and in airports), rising from 16 incidents in 2015 to 46 in 2017.

To tackle this, a raft of UN and IATA regulations (International Air Transport Association) were introduced, governing what could be shipped, and how (i.e. detailed air freight lithium battery requirements).

These regulations are particularly critical  for damaged lithium ion battery shipping, as these pose the greatest risk.

This is where Zarges cases – with carefully selected inserts – come in.

The Zarges K470 case in particular has been designed to absorb the energy released during a fire. The interior of the case is coated with an intumescent material (i.e. one that foams when heated), meaning the cases interior swells up and prevents the fire from spreading further.

The other benefit of this is that the temperature of the cases exterior does not exceed 100°C, and any smoke is contained within the case as well (preventing alerts being raised). This has been tested under the strictest conditions (including UN3480 Class 9 hazardous goods) to ensure all regulatory requirements are met.

UN 3480 battery packaging
Zarges K470 cases with appropriate inserts are able to satisfy UN3480 battery packaging regulations

In addition to this, the Zarges lithium battery transportation cases are durable and robust, making the resistant to impact and shock, as well passing the required drop tests for specific types of transit.

This is also in addition to all of the usability benefits inherent in these aluminium cases. This includes easy loading and unloading thanks to the hinged lids, being reseal able with the easy to use clasps (which also makes it possible to lock the cases), as well as being easy to transport thanks to their light weight and comfortable handles.

GWP Protective lithium battery guide

Download: Lithium Battery Shipping...

…advice and guidance. Find out how you can ensure safe transit that is compliant with all applicable laws and regulations. Get it for free now by clicking below!

03: Inserts & Options.

Plastazote foam & “Cirrux” insert options for shipping batteries

However, just as critical to the success of these lithium ion battery packaging / cases, is that of the interior.

As standard, the cases for transporting lithium ion batteries are supplied with “Cirrux” interior padding, which helps to contain any fires within the specific compartment where it occurs. Similarly to the cases interior coating, the absorbent material filters out solid components from the battery gases, whilst also allowing liquid constituents to condense on the fibres’ surface.

This basically enables the cases to prevent any leaked flammable gases from igniting.

This is also an ideal solution if you are transporting lithium batteries by air, road or sea that vary in size and shape (as the Cirrux can be simply warapped around these differing configurations).

An alternative option however is to use Plastazote foam inserts, and in particular anti flammable grades. Whilst the principal of containing any fire and ignitable material within a specific compartment of the cases interior is the same, there are a number of inherent benefits of this material.

Anti flammable case inserts
Cirrux anti flammable case inserts can be used to contain fire - although flame resistant Plastazote also offers improved cushioning performance too

Firstly, the foam can be designed to provide calculated levels of protection from impact, shock and vibration – something which can be critical if transporting damaged or defective batteries.

The foam recessed can also be shaped to exactly match the profile of the batteries to be placed within, further reducing movement (and potential impact) within the case. This also improves usability in terms of packing and retrieval of the batteries.

As such, if you will be shipping large numbers of lithium batteries of the same type / size, Plastazote foam inserts are the sensible choice.

Please speak with an advisor at GWP Protective for guidance on the best battery packaging design (i.e. case / insert combination) for your lithium ion battery packaging requirements.

04: Video.

See Zarges lithium battery cases in action

For further information on both the Zarges battery boxes, the differing insert types as detailed above and general information on packaging lithium batteries for shipment, please watch the short video below.

05: Products Affected.

When are you likely to need lithium ion battery shipping boxes?

Widely used due to their efficiency, cost and low weight, lithium ion batteries are a key part of the drive towards using electric vehicles, as well as in consumer items such as smartphones and power-tools etc.

With the automotive industry in particular using increasing numbers of lithium ion batteries due to the demand for hybrid and fully electrical vehicles, their use is also increasing across items such as drills, electrical garden appliances (e.g. strimmers) and various other tools, mainly due to their light weight.

But something as seemingly benign as a drill or even an iPod can be classified as dangerous goods, due to the properties of the batteries (and which is why Zarges cases used for shipping batteries have become increasingly popular).

Damaged caused by lithium batteries
Damage caused by Lithium batteries igniting can have disastrous consequences.

Manufacturers, retailers and business dealing with any of these products face the daunting challenge of safely storing and transporting not only mass produced batteries, but also prototype and defective batteries too – without allowing the battery (and particularly damaged ones) to ignite.

Shipping damaged Lithium Ion batteries is arguably the hardest challenge manufacturers now face, alongside lithium battery disposal and recycling.

Defective or malfunctioning batteries can lead to overheating, or thermal runaways. The worst case scenario is this resulting in fires, explosions or gas leaks. Lithium batteries can also go into thermal runaway when coming into contact with external heat sources, such as fire.

As such, lithium batteries – and products containing them –  are considered hazardous materials or dangerous goods.

Anyone shipping lithium batteries overseas or within the UK – including  products they are contained within – must adhere to the strict regulatory requirements.

Most common products containing lithium batteries

  • Laptops / tablets
  • Smartphones, MP3 players and small consumer devices
  • Measuring equipment
  • Drones
  • Medical devices / defibrillators
  • E-Bikes
  • Electric / hybrid cars & vehicles
  • Hover boards
  • Power tools

06: Applications / Images.

Image gallery showcasing Zarges aluminium battery packaging

Please see below for a selection of images of Zarges UN approved battery boxes being used to transport Lithium Ion batteries. Please click the thumbnail for a larger image.

07: Battery Types.

Ascertaining the requirements for your specific application

If you are manufacturer of any of the products highlighted above, you are likely to handle, store and transport batteries in a range of different states.

This could be everything from one off prototypes, through to mass produced batteries and even damaged or depleted batteries that have come to the end of their usable life.

In all these scenarios there are slightly differing requirements for safe shipping, which Zarges cases with custom foam inserts can help to meet.

The following key types of battery are listed below. For further advice and / or guidance regarding you specific application, please get in touch.

Prototypes

A lithium ion battery classified as a prototype will be unlikely to have been tested to ensure it meets UN specifications (specifically Part III, Sub-section 38.3 of the Manual of Tests and Criteria).

As such, you (or the manufacturer) would need to declare it is safe to be shipped, whilst the exterior case would need to be tougher and sturdier than for mass produced batteries (Zarges UN3480 / UN3481 battery cases can meet this requirement).

These rules also apply to any short run battery that has not undergone the specific testing set out in the UN guidelines.

Lithium Ion battery packaging requirements
Lithium Ion battery packaging requirements can vary depending on the type or state of the batteries to be shipped

Production / Series

A production, mass produced or “series” battery will have had to be tested and approved for both shipping and use.

As it meets all of the requirements set out by the UN’s Manual of Tests and Criteria, there are a slightly different set of regulations than when compared with prototypes and waste / defective batteries.

Waste

Waste (also sometimes called dead) lithium-ion batteries are those at the und end of their useful life cycle.

They are most likely being transported for recycling or safe disposal, but must be shipped in specific packaging (such as Zarges lithium battery shipping boxes with appropriate inserts) and cannot be shipped via air freight.

Defective and / or damaged

Finally, transporting damaged lithium ion batteries must adhere to the most stringent legislation.

If a lithium-ion battery is damaged or defective, it cannot be transported by air – with no exceptions. If the state of the battery cannot be determined then, for safety purposes, it must be considered defective.

It’s packaging must also meet the strictest criteria, with Zarges Akku boxes being able to fulfil these with careful design and thorough testing (allowing for shiping lithium batteries by road / sea).

GWP Protective lithium battery guide

Free Guide

Shipping lithium batteries: laws and regulations

Get your free guide highlighting all of the factors you need to consider to ensure safe – and legal – shipping of lithium batteries.

08: UN3480 Regulations.

Overview of UN and IATA regulations for lithium battery packaging

Whilst the full legislation is very specific and in depth (as required for hazardous goods), an edited overview of the key points of all applicable legislation cab be found below.

For more in depth coverage of this topic, please refer to this article in the guides section this site covering the FAQs of shipping lithium batteries.

UN Number: UN3480 Class 9

The UN Model regulation for the Transport of Dangerous Goods To transport Li-ion batteries classifies them under CLASS 9.

Zarges cases with customised interiors have passed performance tests related to the package integrity, plus the aluminium Lithium Ion battery cases have UN approval and feature the mandatory UN certification labelling /marks.

MIL-STD-810F and IP67

The ICAO, NATO and IATA, all have strict regulations regarding the transport of lithium ion batteries.

Zarges cases are able to meet these requirements, but it must be noted that testing is required in order to ensure any cases manufactured / customised are fit for purpose and will not pose a safety risk.

GWP Protective are happy to assist in the testing of any case you look to source from us.

IATA-DGR requirements

The International Air Transport Association requirements are set out as follows:

IATA special provisions A88, A99, A154, A164

IATA packing instructions P965, P966, P967, P968, P969, P970

Class packing group II ICAO-Labels 9

Correct shipping name: UN 3480, Lithium-Ion batteries

Valid UN packing mark

Please note that defective and damaged batteries are not permitted for transport by air under any circumstances.

Fully-Excepted Shipments

Whilst shipping lithium batteries by ground (i.e. via couriers or logistics companies) carries the same set of regulatory requirements, there may be subtle differences between what specific logistics operators will and will not allow. Always check before shipping lithium ion batteries by road networks.

However, lithium ion (effectively rechargeable) batteries that are rated at 100-watt hours or less, and lithium metal batteries with two (2) grams or below of lithium, are often classed as fully-excepted items.

These parameters do increase (slightly) if transit will be limited to road / rail networks only. Please note there are additional exceptions apply to individual cells.

Any “fully-excepted” items only need the appropriate lithium battery mark, displaying the UN number(s), plus a telephone number providing a 24/7 emergency-response number.

Fully excepted shipment label

Fully-Regulated Shipments

In contrast to fully excepted shipments, the regulations are much stricter for lithium battery shipments that exceed these exception limits.

Effectively, the package will become a fully-regulated shipment and will then requires additional documentation. This includes:

Class 9 Hazard label

Shipping papers / documentation

24/7 emergency contact number

Class 9 hazard label

Zarges battery case labelling explanation

The following diagram provides an explanation of the labelling required on any Zarges case to be UN compliant.

Lithium ion battery case markings
A

Serial Number

B

Packaging type and material. 4B = case made from aluminium. 50B = large container made from aluminium (volume >450 litres)

C

Packaging group and gross weight: X102 = VPGR. I, II and III gross weight 102 kg

D

Material type: S = solid material or internal packaging without hydraulic internal pressure testing

E

Year of manufacture

F

Country in which approval was granted

G

UN symbol for packaging

H

Licensing institution: BAM = Federal Office for Material Research and Testing

J

Abbreviation of manufacturer or testing centre: = Zarges GmbH

I

Approval Number: 8311 = Approval No. 8311 issued by BAM

09: Other Batteries / Hazardous Goods

Other batteries that require specialist packaging / shipping procedures

Although lithium based batteries – being the fastest growing and potentially most dangerous – have been the focus of recent legislation, there are a number of other battery types that require specialist shipping / packaging.

Please see below for an overview of these, or contact us here at GWP to discuss your specific application / requirement.

Lead Acid Batteries

Lead acid batteries – and those termed as “spill able” – are classed as dangerous goods under Class 8 (controlled by UN 2749).

Effectively considered dangerous due to the potential of fire if shorted, any acid spills can also cause significant personal injury. Saying that, as these batteries have been in use for a considerable period of time, the shipping regulations are generally straightforward, well established and robust.

This includes only one type of hazardous material being transported per vehicle, batteries needing to be stacked upright, placing layer pads (e.g. corrugated cardboard) between layers, and wrapping pallets with shrink wrap to improve stability.

This is in addition to adding the Corrosive label, UN 2794 identification number, marking as “Wet, filled with acid” and having relevant paperwork.

Nickel-based Batteries

Whilst Nickel based batteries have no specific transit limitations / regulations, many of the same precautions as listed for lead acid batteries will apply. This is mainly to prevent electrical shorts which could result in fire.

There are regulations that prohibit storage and transportation within metal boxes / cases, and it is also advised to wrap individual batteries within plastic bags. For individuals, it is widely advised not to mix batteries with coins, house-keys and other metal objects within luggage or pockets etc.

10: Checklist for Shipping.

What we need to know before creating your lithium battery packaging

The following provides a breakdown of the common information you will need before specifying lithium ion battery cases / packaging.

If you have any questions however regarding shipping lithium ion batteries, then please do not hesitate to contact us here at GWP.

Information required before transporting lithium batteries by road / air / sea

  • How many cells, batteries or battery packs will be transported?
  • How many Kwh is each battery?
  • What are the dimensions and weight of each battery?
  • Are the batteries being transported by via road, rail, sea or air freight?
  • What is the exact type / specification of the battery?

Please also note that:

For air freight, each case (including the batteries) can only weigh up to a maximum of 35Kg

For passenger aircraft, each case (plus batteries) can only weight up to a maximum of 5Kg.

Packaging lithium batteries for shipment

Please download the form below to provide all of the information required if you are looking to source lithium ion battery packaging, or alternatively contact a member of our team by clicking here.

11: GWP Protective.

A protective case and foam manufacturer you can trust

GWP Protective has nearly 30 years’ experience in providing specialist protective cases with foam inserts for a wide range of industries. And whilst the requirement for safely shipping lithium ion batteries has only become more widespread in recent years, we have experience of producing successful cases for various hazardous materials.

This has included specialist military equipment, dangerous chemicals, and even explosives and live ammunition.

This is in addition to being trusted by hundreds of companies just like yours to provide customised foam inserts that are calculated to offer the optimum level of protection.

Case manufacturers
Rather than being simple case manufacturers, GWP Protective have invested considerable resources in order to be able to offer your business a wide range of supporting services

GWP Have also teamed up with a number of leading case brands – including Zarges (manufacturers of UN3481 shipping containers), Peli, Hardigg and SKB, to be able to offer a range of exterior cases that cover virtually every application and requirement.

Operating from a well-equipped production facility in Salisbury, Wiltshire, a friendly, knowledgeable team of designers, engineers and support staff will be able to ensure your brief is exceeded regardless of your requirements. Get a free quote or no obligation advice today.

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Find out more about safely shipping lithium Ion batteries

For further information on the Zarges lithium battery packaging / cases that will allow you to safely and legally ship hazardous items, please get in touch with a member of our team today.

Phone GWP Protective

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Mon – Fri 08.30 – 17.00

Email GWP Protective

[email protected]

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Ensure you are safely and legally shipping Lithium Ion batteries with Zarges Lithium Battery Packaging / Cases

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