How do I know the lithium content of a lithium-ion battery?

  • #1

Summary:

When take airlines, we always think about a problem, that is, "How much lithium in a battery am I allowed to bring on board?". Because a power bank is necessary for a long time trip.
Power bank is common for our daily life, especially for our smart phone, which always a lithium-ion battery. Taking airplane is easy at our daily life, but there are restrictions on lithium content for air travel, thus air travelers ask the question "How much lithium in a battery am I allowed to bring on board?", which is a common problem for me. Several days ago, I have read a note about it, which says "Lithium-ion batteries exceeding 8 grams but no more than 25 grams may be carried in luggage if individually protected to prevent short circuits and are limited to two spare batteries per person. "(cr: Lithium Battery and Lithium-ion Battery Chemistry Information ).

After read it, I also confused and have another question "How do I know the lithium content of a lithium-ion battery?". Is there anyone can give me some specific example to describe it? Many thanks.
 

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  • #2
Tom.G
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Summary:: When take airlines, we always think about a problem, that is, "How much lithium in a battery am I allowed to bring on board?". Because a power bank is necessary for a long time trip.

"Lithium-ion batteries exceeding 8 grams but no more than 25 grams may be carried in luggage if individually protected to prevent short circuits and are limited to two spare batteries per person. "
That sentence sure reads like the weight restriction applies to the WHOLE BATTERY, not to the amount of Lithium in it. That would also seem to be the only way to enforce the restriction, unless you want to dis-assemble each battery and weigh the Lithium itself. NOT a project I would attempt!

Cheers,
Tom
 
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  • #3
sophiecentaur
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I think that there should be no worries about personal batteries. They will be 'type approved' to satisfy the regulations. Just consider the situation when a supplier imports several hundred laptop batteries by air freight. All the hard work and worry about the issue has been taken care of.
Steer clear of the pen pushing administrators of air travel regulations. They are trained to react over the top to certain terms. I remember having terrible trouble when I tried to take a Hewlet Packard 'Rubidium' frequency source on a plane. The device contained probably only a few μg of Rubidium but it rang alarm bells all over the place. Rubidium is a very reactive alkali metal that needs to be treated and stored very carefully in 'finite quantities'.
 
  • #4
anorlunda
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Think of the practicality of the airline employees. They are not technical. They have no web site at their fingertips to look up a make-model of an item. The only tools at their disposal are their eyes, a scale, and a copy of the regulations. At best, their go/no-go decision making is crude.

I have a similar problem carrying items into secure areas. The guard at the gate must decide if my items are OK or not. The guard makes minimum wage, and has no special training, not necessarily even a high school diploma. I'm forced to accept that the guard's judgement may be crude and inexact to say the least, arbitrary at worst. The solution (more qualified guards) is out of my reach.

I was recently denied entry wearing my new Bose hearing aids. The guard googled the model on his phone and found that they were Bluetooth capable. I almost protested, "All modern hearing aids are Bluetooth capable." But I stopped and self-censored lest all modern hearing aids might be banned. The printed rule says only, "wireless communication devices are not allowed", that makes hearing aids, smart phones, and even sub-cuticle RFID tags alike.
 
  • #5
256bits
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Summary:: When take airlines, we always think about a problem, that is, "How much lithium in a battery am I allowed to bring on board?". Because a power bank is necessary for a long time trip.

"Lithium-ion batteries exceeding 8 grams but no more than 25 grams may be carried in luggage if individually protected to prevent short circuits and are limited to two spare batteries per person.
Lithium batteries are one of the dufus's of the Dangerous Goods Regulations, that are hard to work with and around. The book for batteries ( from IATA, I believe, on behalf of the UN ) is about 100 pages in thickness, so there is a definite concern regarding the safety of crew and passengers for these items being brought on board an airplane. In the regular IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations these items are listed as being Forbidden on passenger airplanes.
BUT, due to classified exceptions, passengers are allowed some comfort that most batteries that they do use can be taken on board, as either within checked baggage, on in the cabin, depending. AND, you, in a lot of cases, are exempt from completing a Dangerous Goods Form, which is mandatory of 99% of all dangerous goods transported by air.

There are 4 classifications, or Packing Groups and subsections under each determined by amount of Lithium content, and/or Wh rating. Who in heir right mind would know how much Lithium content is in a battery if asked.
Whether the battery is Lithium Ion, Lithium Metal, Batteries in Equipment, Batteries Packed with Equipment, Batteries Spare, Loose, have paragraphs devoted to them in the regulations and as I said it is a lot for check-in people, cargo personnel, loading agents to get to understand and watch out for something such as "hidden" and "undeclared " dangerous goods.

Anyways,
Here is what Fedex recommends, in determining the Lithium content of your battery.
https://www.fedex.com/content/dam/fedex/us-united-states/services/LithiumBattery_JobAid.pdf
Just multiply the
Ah rating by 0.3 g/h and you have your lithium content for a cell.

AFAIK, less than 8g Lithium content for spare batteries is permitted as checked baggage, not in the cabin, with a rating less than 160 Ah. Not sure to what the greater than 8g but less than 25 g lithium content is referring.
If in equipment, say your laptop, for carry on, usually no one asks. ( less than 100 Ah rating )

AS always "Operator approval Required", meaning the airline needs to know what you have so they can determine the acceptability if the item.

And as always IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations subject to change every year ( and in between).


few μg of Rubidium
Rubidium is listed also as being Forbidden on passenger flights, but can be sent as cargo, unless there is an exception that you found out about.
 
  • #6
256bits
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The guard makes minimum wage, and has no special training, I'm forced to accept that the guard's judgement may be crude and inexact to say the least, arbitrary at worst. The solution (more qualified guards) is out of my reach.
Not correct in most cases,
These people have taken courses and training for these particular situations.
A lot of times they must meet legal requirements through completion of courses and training, with refresher courses every couple of years.
Even if is company policy, the rules apply.
A guard who does not apply the rules, is dismissed quite quickly.

EDIT:
self-censored lest all modern hearing aids might be banned. The printed rule says only, "wireless communication devices are not allowed"
Probably a good idea at times to not open up a can of worms.
I suppose the risk of devices that can present in some potential way unauthorized communication was evaluated and itemized, with "Bluetooth" being one of the key words and subsequently interpreted in the broadest sense, at the guards discretion. Since he himself had to Google, it does not appear that he has a cheat fact sheet to rely upon from upper management, but that would require some work, thinking, and decisions, but who wants to do that.
 
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  • #7
sophiecentaur
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Rubidium is listed also as being Forbidden on passenger flights,
In its metallic form, no doubt. There are many pieces of electronic equipment that use a Rubidium based frequency / time standard internal source but I guess most passengers would be happy with it travelling in the hold and not on their laps. But you mentioned "passenger flights" so that may not help.
 
  • #8
256bits
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In its metallic form, no doubt. There are many pieces of electronic equipment that use a Rubidium based frequency / time standard internal source but I guess most passengers would be happy with it travelling in the hold and not on their laps. But you mentioned "passenger flights" so that may not help.
It took a search and I finally found something for you regarding an exemption, or rather an interpretation of the regulations.

https://cms7.phmsa.dot.gov/regulations/title49/interp/08-0154
Based on the information provided and on previous interpretation by RSPA, it is the opinion of this Office that a frequency device containing less than one gram of rubidium for use in atomic clocks is not subject to the HMR as a Class 4 hazardous material
That is from 2008, from the PHMSA for the USA. DOT.
To air transport, and internationally, one would need something similar as a waiver from IATA, which for this item has been granted as understand,

Class 4 is, by the way, flammable solid.

One can see the bureaucracy at work here in the classification of materials.
 
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  • #9
sophiecentaur
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Class 4 is, by the way, flammable solid.
I was told an apocryphal tale about the captain of a South American freighter who, as a result of something suspicious happening in their shipment of Rubidium, ordered it to be thrown over the side. Took em a bit by surprise, so the story goes.

My experience with the Rubidium frequency source was in the mid to late eighties. Perhaps things have been sorted out better now . I had to take our box to the Government Agency and have it examined. It was, at least back in the days before fear of bombs or I'd have had another pile of trouble getting it past security, no doubt.
 
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  • #10
Thanks you guys, but I don't get an reasonable answer yet.
 
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  • #11
russ_watters
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Thanks you guys, but I don't get an reasonable answer yet.
What would a reasonable answer look like to you? If the correct answer is that the question is based on a faulty premise, would the correct answer still be unreasonable?
 
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  • #12
sophiecentaur
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A reasonable answer to the ‘how much Lithium’ question would involve the number of Lithium ions involved. I suggest that One Ion per Electron passing through each cell would give an idea of how much metal is in there
I don’t have a pencil with me but the total charge (Ah) passed divided by e times the mass of a Lithium atom would be near enough the minimum mass of metal content.
That’s not based on the Regs but on Physics, which is more along the lines of PF style.
 
  • #13
DaveE
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Thanks you guys, but I don't get an reasonable answer yet.
Call the airline you will fly on. They will have better information than we will.
 
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  • #14
256bits
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Thanks you guys, but I don't get an reasonable answer yet.
For what you can bring on board,
Then you didn';t read my post #5, because the regulations from IATA is what the airlines will use to give you an answer.
Or you can acquire the services of a private Dangerous Goods specialist, who also uses the same material.

If you want to figure the Li content yourself then use some chemistry, as in post 12 knowing the energy content of the cell / battery
 
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