Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Coming Lithium Battery Shortage

Politicians are never slow to let a accident or a crises go to waste:

"WASHINGTON (Associated Press) By JOAN LOWY, October/27/2010

Safety advocates have warned for more than a decade that someday an air shipment of lithium batteries like those used in cameras, cell phones and countless other products would catch fire, causing a plane to crash and people to die.

That day may have arrived last month.

A United Parcel Service cargo plane with a fire raging on board, and carrying a large quantity of lithium batteries, crashed near Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on Sept. 3, killing both pilots. The cause of the accident isn’t likely to be determined for months, but investigators suspect the batteries were either the source of the fire or contributed to its severity. The Federal Aviation Administration was concerned enough by the accident to warn air carriers about risks posed by lithium battery shipments.

The accident has given new urgency to a high-stakes lobbying struggle under way in Washington. Pilot unions and safety advocates are urging the government to treat air shipments of lithium batteries as hazardous materials. But rules proposed by the Obama administration are opposed by many of the nation’s top retailers, electronics manufacturers, battery makers and cargo airlines, including UPS.

...

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To avoid the wrath of Copyright Lawyers you can find many variations of the full text here, some more detailed than others.

The investigation into the UPS airliner crash will not be completed for months, but regulators are taking this opportunity to increase the costs of Lithium Batteries significantly. Better stock up now.

There already are significant regulations about the shipping of Lithium Batteries, in the form of UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, SubSection 38.3 Lithium Batteries) and Hazardous Material Shipping - Hazard Class 9: Lithium Battery.

Did you know that since January 1, 2008, you may not pack spare lithium batteries in your checked baggage?

I looked into doing a custom Lithium Ion battery pack at one time. There was several thousands of dollars involved just to cover the cost of dealing with the UN shipping regulations.

Less you think that you might be able to use Super Capacitors as a substitute, there are already new regulations on shipping these high farad value capacitors, where the shipping fees exceed the costs of low volume quantities of the capacitors themselves. For example the following is taken from Shipping Information for Maxwell Boostcap® Ultracapacitor Products from Mouser:

Maxwell Boostcap® Ultracapacitor products employ an organic electrolyte, quaternary salt (tetraethylammonium tetraflouroborate) with an organic solvent (acetonitrile).

The following shipping restrictions and fees apply:

The organic solvent acetonitrile is classified as flammable and is subject to shipping restrictions in quantities as outlined in Maxwell Technology's document "Shipping information for transportation of Ultracapacitors".

Ground Shipments to the 48 contiguous United States: Shipped by UPS Ground only. Shipping costs and $25.00 USD hazmat fee will be applied to each box. [As of today October/30/2010.]

Air Shipments to the US and to eligible countries: Shipped by FedEx only. Shipping costs and $110 USD hazmat fee will be applied to each box. [As of today October/30/2010.]

FedEx Customer Reference: http://www.fedex.com/us/dangerousgoods

BatteryUniversity.eu will introduce you to the many regulations.

Soon you and I will not be able to afford the regulation that we must meet to ship products. I'm Taxed Enough Already aren't you?



Take note of the TSA's response to the XKCD 'Bag Check' cartoon shown above; place Mouse Pointer over above image if it is to small. [Note that some XKCD cartoons may be offensive to some, and not recommend for those under 18 years of age.]