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The U.S. DOT advises that any spare batteries should be stored in a zip-lock bag or the factory packaging to prevent short-circuits.  (Source: U.S. Department of Transportation)
New rules limit lithium content in batteries carried on aircraft

New rules went into effect today that could affect travelers who carry portable electronics on flights. The new regulations limit the amount of lithium in luggage and carry-on items -- specifically with regards to lithium in batteries.

The new rules state that spare batteries cannot be packed inside checked luggage, but spare batteries can be carried on board in carry-on baggage. Those brave enough to check baggage with electronic devices inside can leave installed batteries in the devices.

The U.S. Department of Transportation does not specify how many batteries are acceptable for travel.  The Department states passengers can carry spare batteries for electronic devices and that the lithium content in all batteries must weigh less than 25 grams.

To help explain the strange equivalent lithium content rule, Safetravel.dot.gov uses an example dividing the total amount of lithium as Watt-hours. The DOT claims lithium grams is roughly equivalent to 300 Watt-hours of battery time.

The popular Dell XPS m1330 notebook uses several different batteries. The 9-cell batteries, the largest available for the system, are rated at 85 Watt-hours. That would mean a pair of spare batteries for the notebook (170 Watt-hours) are well within the 25 gram (300 Watt-hours) total aggregate lithium content.   However, a passenger can only care the installed 9-cell battery with two spares before exceeding the 25g limit.

Devices that use lithium-metal batteries have a limit of two grams of lithium-metal per battery and according to Safetravel.dot.gov almost all lithium-metal batteries used in consumer devices comply with that limit. However, devices with lithium metal-batteries over the two gram limit are barred from the aircraft entirely.

These new rules are due to the potential fire hazard posed by rechargeable lithium batteries. The massive recalls and wide spread reports of fires resulting from laptop batteries resulting in the massive battery recalls of 2007 sparked the new battery policies now in effect.

However, the FAA is very clear on why such strict limits must be imposed.  In a statement released yesterday, the Administration stated, "Safety testing conducted by the FAA found that current aircraft cargo fire suppression system would not be capable of suppressing a fire if a shipment of non-rechargeable lithium batteries were ignited in flight."


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By Inkjammer on 1/1/2008 2:17:22 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
My main worry would be is not what the rules say, but how they are going to be misintepreted, not by bloggers, but by TSA people in the airports...
I was just about to post that. The TSA, while having a hard job, seem to be a little too aggressive at times.

I'm a world traveler, and have had more problems with the TSA than I care to recount. My question is how they plan to measure the amount of grams in the batteries and enforce it. I don't put a lot of trust in the TSA's math skills. They can barely handle my belongings with care, what makes me think they can respect my expensive electronics?

My Alienware m9750's battery is big, black and doesn't have any visible information on the battery. Not on the top, not on the bottom. So unless they're going to weigh the batteries, I don't see where they're going to get their data from to gauge if the battery is valid. If they were to decide my battery violates the code, what happens to my battery? Do I just lose a $150 laptop battery? Do they mail it to me? Do I just get one of those evil TSA pamphlets that says, in a manner of speaking, "We're the TSA. Sorry for damaging your items beyond repair. We can not be held accountable, as we did it for the security of the nation. Thank you for understanding and complying. Love, your friends at the TSA".

If you've gotten one of those fliers you know exactly what I mean. I've had belongings damaged by the TSA worse than if I took the item out and curb stomped it. I don't want them on my laptop. At all.


By RMSistight on 1/1/2008 4:15:41 PM , Rating: 2
What you guys should do is carry printouts of battery specifications or anything else that you carry. I fly pretty frequently for short track speedskating meets and I bring the following with me:

Dell m1330 laptop (Li-Ion)
2 x 9 cell battery (85 wh x 2)
1 x 6 cell battery (56 wh)

Sony HDR-HC7 camcorder
3 x NP-FH70 Li-Ion batteries (12.2 wh x 3)
1 x NP-FH50 Li-Ion batteries (6.1 wh)

+Misc cell phone battery

I have all detailed printouts for all my laptop and camcorders batteries indicating their battery type and how many watt/hour they use. Hell, you can even do the math for them to have it written down on a piece of paper...haha.


By Mk4ever on 1/2/2008 12:22:48 AM , Rating: 2
Not the best idea, nor a bright constructive solution to the problem, but I seriously suggest you print some info from any other battery and stick it on your battery to look like other original stickers. Save yourself endless arguments with stubborn employees and save your batteries.


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