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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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RE: Are we missing thr MUCH bigger story?
By Alexstarfire on 1/2/2008 4:13:18 AM , Rating: 2
Well, unless they packed the Li-Ion battery with a box full of metal, then yea, I would. I think the whole point is that they allow some Li-Ion batteries, but not all of them. If they outright banned them all then I could understand a little bit. But they are saying that you can have them if they are being used and not while they aren't, generally speaking. That doesn't make any sense. They are only going to explode when being used, ie charging or using the device it's in. I have yet to hear of one exploding because it was stored improperly or wasn't in use.


RE: Are we missing thr MUCH bigger story?
By PandaBear on 1/2/2008 11:49:27 AM , Rating: 2
Paper clip with knock off batteries that has no short protection?


By TomZ on 1/2/2008 12:20:57 PM , Rating: 2
That would be a more general hazard - it would threaten our safety in our offices, homes, in cars, trains, etc. - in other words it is inherently unsafe and should not be allowed generally, let alone on planes.


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