Delivery companies like FedEx and UPS espouse the virtues of lithium ion batteries, but only when the packs are inside hybrid or electric vehicles. Delivering li-ion batteries is another story.

Li-ion batteries pose safety threats and additional challenges when the are being shipped because of their weight and potential flammability, Automotive News says, citing DHL head of automotive logistics Fathi Tlatli. The battery packs must be specially packed to ensure minimal temperature changes. Additionally, used battery packs must be shipped by ground, instead of air, because of their weight and safety threat.

The issue of li-ion safety has been an ongoing one, most recently popping up this spring when experts told the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that electric-vehicle adoption has been slowed in part by questions about lithium-ion batteries. One expert testified that about 25 percent of a typical li-ion battery is flammable, while incidents involving Mitsubishi, Fisker and even Boeing have further raised concerns about the safety of vehicles that use such batteries. Deaths potentially connected to li-ion battery fires in cars remain low in number, but there has been some damage.


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  • 37 Comments
      EZEE
      • 1 Year Ago
      Luckily coughexxonvadezcough, shipping gas and oil is safe. There don't seem to be any problems coughdeepwaterhorizoncough with extraction either. Gotta get this cough looked at...
        msspamrefuge
        • 1 Day Ago
        @EZEE
        Except the proximate cause of both incidents was human oversight/neglegence rather than any inherent dangers of petroleum. Virtually any function of transport is dangerous when operators bring ineptitude or apathy into the equation. The cargo merely heightened the severity of the consequences of a catastrophic failure.
      msspamrefuge
      • 1 Day Ago
      "Luckily petroleum products don't have any inherent dangers. Now me, and my model friends will have an innocent gasoline fight..." So by you implied logic, both incidents occurred solely because of the petroleum. Forget that both investigations revealed that those inherent dangers were triggered by a litany of individual and collective process failures, the petroleum took the Exxon Valdez on a joyride aground, and Deepwater Horizon was taken out because the petroleum hit the self destruct button when no one was looking. Next week, how guns are able to uncase and load themselves before proceeding to corner and shoot people in the face.
      DarylMc
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sure there are safety issues with batteries but there are plenty of issues transporting and using petroleum products. I wonder if DHL takes full jerry cans in the regular freight.
      lad
      • 1 Year Ago
      I worry when I read about manufactured reasons to slow down the evolution from dirty fossil fuel to clean power: I read about how The Oil companies use their lobbyists, The American Petroleum Institute, to buy politicians and pass laws against using ethanol in gasoline so they can sell more gasoline and pump more oil. I see where the President is being pressured by The Kochs to complete a pipeline to carry oil from Canada, across the middle of the country to the Gulf so it can be refined and shipped to foreign nations further helping to contaminate the air on a Worldwide basis and completely ignoring the dangers associated with oil contamination from major pipe failures. Does Obama have the guts to stand against them? I read how the SAE, run by General Motors, designs a monster J-1772 plug to replace the de facto standard ChaDeMo fast charge plug to impede the acceptance of Electric cars. BMW and GM have yet to build a true EV. They have only California compliance prototypes. So, why should they dictate anything having to do with EVs? Now, this one to impede the ability to ship Lithium cells via common transport. A move designed to stop battery shipments based on incomplete information and scare tactics. But, this is the way Business operates in our society, completely without regards to our people's health and welfare. Business is driven by the evil power of Greed. But, there is no doubt in my mind that the clean energy genie has been released and they can only slow down it's adoption, they will not be able to stop it. Any one of these fossil fuel driven companies would be welcome to cross over to the light; but, they haven't figured out how to create and support clean energy and still control our country through it's energy usage. Hopefully, they never will.
      Nick Kordich
      • 1 Year Ago
      For enthusiasts (the only people who I could see affected by this), the carriers themselves provide information on shipping lithium ion batteries: FedEx http://www.fedex.com/us/service-guide/our-services/dangerous-goods-hazmat/index.html UPS http://www.ups.com/content/us/en/resources/ship/packaging/guidelines/batteries.html DHL http://www.dhl-usa.com/en/express/shipping/shipping_advice/lithium_batteries.html http://www.dhl-usa.com/content/dam/downloads/g0/express/shipping/lithium_batteries/lithium_ion_batteries_regulations.pdf United States Postal Service http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c3_024.htm
      EZEE
      • 1 Day Ago
      Luckily petroleum products don't have any inherent dangers. Now me, and my model friends will have an innocent gasoline fight...
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      Safety depends entirely on the design of the battery itself. Some are safer than others. I've seen an RC Lipo cell pricked and produce flame from just that. I've seen a lifepo4 cylindrical cell overcharged, overheated, then cut in half, and nada, not even any smoke. There are shades in between, but no blanket statement can be made about lithium batteries as a whole. By the way, the fires in the Fisker were due to non-battery causes, weren't they? and the cells they had in the car were coming out of an American line which was spitting out duds left and right. Hobbyists are still using the Korean cells that are up to about 7 years old with no drama..
      mycommentemail
      • 1 Year Ago
      But fed ex has no problems shipping gasoline by air. Oh wait. They don't do that either. Stupid article.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nissan planned well by having their battery production near by their Leaf production so as to minimize shipping issues. I'd imagine Panasonic and Tesla might be planning a new production facility closer to Tesla's CA plant.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        It's theorized that extreme changes in altitude can 'weed out the weak' cells, particularly pouch cells, because oxygen expands the higher you climb. The theory ( among us hobbyists anyway.. ) is that the expansion of oxygen can cause a cell which may have a manufacturing defect or weakness to suffer of an internal short, and then you get kaboom... I have moved from about 200ft above sea level ( Oregon ) to Colorado ( 6,500ft ), then back to about 4,100 feet ( Utah ), crossing mountain passes at 11,000-12,000 feet twice with a car full of about 30 RC Lipo packs. I have seen them contract and expand.
      MiamiD
      • 1 Year Ago
      From ignorance comes stupidity and this is a prime example. Li-ion battery are very safe and all these companies ship laptops, and a host of other electronics with batteries all the time. The only time li-ion battery have had issues is because of improper charging. As long as the terminals are capped properly there is no safety risk. My guess is that they are doing this because of some idiot insurance risk analyst that relied on news reports then actually risk data.
      Levine Levine
      • 1 Year Ago
      How many people died in EV fire last year? None. How many in ICE vehicle fires last year? More than two handful. The news article is rubbish and a propaganda against EV.
        Nick Kordich
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Levine Levine
        The odds of a car fire are 1 in 1365. The odds of a death in a car fire incident is 1 in 694. That's about one death per million cars. There are only about 100,000 EVs on the road. You can't say that the argument for EV safety is demonstrated in the number of incidents - that'd be true even if someone tried to claim they were unsafe and there was a EV fire associated with a death - there are just too few EVs on the road to show a trend, even if EV ownership and usage patterns were the same. Right now, the relative safety of EVs is demonstrated in design criteria, lab tests and crash test results. In time, we'll have greater knowledge of EV safety on the road, but it may be10- 20 years before we have a far better picture, as factors in car fires are widely varied, including vehicle age, geography and economic status (right now, an EV owner is unlikely to be homeless, using a portable gas heater for warmth - that is a factor in car fires).
      CoolWaters
      • 1 Year Ago
      How are they dangerous when not plugged into a circuit?
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @CoolWaters
        Depends on if they have current going into them or not ;) A cell with internal manufacturing flaws is dangerous at all times.. unfortunately the manufacturers have just figured out good quality control at this point. Remember the rashes of laptop fires back in the mid 2000's?
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