Can you take a lithium battery on a plane?

Lithium-ion batteries have become an integral part of our daily lives, powering electronics such as cell phones and laptops. Nowadays, lithium batteries are included in many of the items we need when traveling. This means that we also inevitably carry lithium batteries when we fly on airplanes. However, according to statistics, in recent years, the country’s major civilian airports, has occurred a number of lithium battery spontaneous combustion events, and presents a rising trend year by year. This often leads to a question: lithium batteries can still be brought on the plane?

Life we can still bring lithium batteries on the plane, but how much watt-hour lithium batteries can be carried and can be checked are very strict rules. Batteries are very dangerous, so we must follow these rules when attempting to bring them on board an airplane.

Whether or not batteries can be carried on an airplane depends on the type of battery and whether or not it is placed in checked or carry-on baggage. Generally, you must put the battery in your carry-on baggage, as there are very strict restrictions on batteries in checked baggage. Consumer lithium-ion batteries up to 100 watt-hours are allowed in both carry-on and checked baggage. lithium-ion batteries up to 100 watt-hours are the batteries that come with your laptop/cell phone and are best kept in your carry-on baggage. You can also carry spare lithium-ion batteries in your carry-on baggage, but they must be protected from short-circuiting and damage.

If you want to carry a lithium battery with a charge of less than 100 watt-hours in your checked baggage, it must be connected to your device and the device must be switched off. For example, if you have to carry your cell phone in your checked baggage, it needs to be turned off. Lithium metal batteries are typically non-rechargeable batteries made of lithium. Non-rechargeable lithium batteries may be carried on board an airplane in carry-on baggage, provided they do not contain more than 2 grams of lithium per battery.

Larger lithium-ion batteries over 100 watt-hours require airline approval to be carried in carry-on baggage. You may also carry these lithium-ion batteries as a backup battery with approval, but you may only carry a maximum of two of these backup batteries in your carry-on baggage. Lithium-ion batteries exceeding 100 watt-hours are not permitted in checked baggage, and this rule applies regardless of whether the lithium battery is loose or connected to a device.

The reason why lithium batteries can’t be taken on airplanes is because there is a risk of spontaneous combustion, and the higher the watt-hour of lithium batteries, the more serious accidents will occur when spontaneous combustion occurs, resulting in greater losses. Internal short circuit, external impact, battery pack overheating are the three main reasons for spontaneous combustion of lithium batteries.

Short circuit: The electrode material and electrolyte of lithium battery are flammable, and its isolation film is very thin, usually only 2,025 nm, which is very easy to be damaged, resulting in short circuit within the battery. In addition, due to the error of the battery process itself leads to the core lugs are too long, easy to contact with the pole or shell resulting in an internal short circuit, or the lugs compression roll core resulting in a positive and negative short circuit, or between the two poles to leave the metal powder, copper foil, aluminum foil fragments, which will also increase the risk of lithium battery short-circuit.

When the lithium-ion battery short-circuit, the sparks generated will ignite the electrolyte in an instant, the burning electrolyte will be followed by the ignition of the plastic body, resulting in the overall battery combustion, if not detected in time and surrounded by flammable materials will cause fire accidents. Therefore, generally will not be easy to let the lithium battery for consignment, battery carry-on when we can sense the fire in a relatively short period of time and take timely and effective measures to extinguish the fire, to avoid causing more serious losses.

Overheating: the main cause of overheating lithium-ion batteries is overcharging. After overcharging, there are needle-like lithium metal crystals everywhere on the pole piece, causing micro-short circuit. As a result, the battery temperature will gradually rise, and finally the high temperature of the electrolyte gasification, resulting in increased internal pressure in the battery pack. Whether the temperature is too high to make the material combustion, or the battery pack shell is broken, will lead to the outside air into the battery internal oxidation reaction, causing battery combustion.

It should be noted that spontaneous combustion caused by overcharging does not necessarily occur during the charging process. It is possible that the temperature of the battery is not high enough to allow the material to burn, the gas produced is not enough to break the battery shell, the battery user terminates the charging, and the heat accumulated inside the battery, slowly raising the temperature of the battery, after a period of time, spontaneous combustion occurs, or even an explosion. On the contrary, in the over-discharged state, on the one hand, the electrolyte due to the decomposition of the battery characteristics and durability degradation, on the other hand, lead to excessive release of lithium ions from the anode carbon and the collapse of its lamellar structure, resulting in the permanent damage to the battery, when recharged and used again, it is very easy to have an internal short-circuit, resulting in overheating.

For different lithium-ion batteries have different thermal stability limit temperature, lithium cobalt oxide batteries for 130C, lithium manganese oxide batteries for 250C, when the temperature exceeds this temperature, there will be spontaneous combustion.

crash: A test on lithium ion batteries subjected to external impact showed that when a lithium ion battery was subjected to a weight of 5 kg hammer, from a height of 0.6 m, to do a free-fall impact, the instantaneous generation of 25 J of energy in its internal, so that the temperature of the battery increased by 120 degrees. Lithium ion has a strong activity, so the battery is very sensitive to external forces, when hit or fall from a height, the battery pack will produce internal heat, heat rapidly accumulated to the initial burst temperature of the battery, which in turn caused spontaneous combustion of the battery, which triggered the thermal runaway and chain reaction explosion is very likely to cause serious injuries or deaths.

For example, in the early morning of May 26, 2012, Shenzhen, a BYD E6 car was a luxury sports car from the left rear of the violent impact of the fire, resulting in the death of the car 3 people. So the lithium battery aviation check-in regulations are very strict, because in the process of flight luggage is extremely vulnerable to bumps and extrusion and other external forces, resulting in damage to the lithium battery inside the fire, the aircraft cargo compartment fire is difficult to find and put out in a timely manner, easy to cause serious accidents.

Because of these major reasons for lithium batteries have great safety risks, on the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recorded since March 20, 1991 ~ June 3, 2013 lithium battery air transport accidents, there are records of a total of 135, these accidents, in addition to the 10 accidents (2 melting, 2 leakage, 5 heat but not fire, 1 battery bumps) did not have a smoke fire, the rest are varying degrees of fire, such as cloudy combustion, sparking, smoke fire, burning, etc., more than 90% of the accidents are due to lithium battery air transport accidents, such as cloudy combustion, sparking, smoke fire, burning, etc., more than 90% of the accidents are due to lithium battery smoke fire.

The rest are different degrees of fire, such as cathodic combustion, sparking, smoke fire, burning, etc., lithium battery air transportation accidents in more than 90% of the accidents are due to lithium battery smoke fire accidents”. Therefore, on August 8, 2014, the Civil Aviation Administration of China issued a notice stipulating that passengers are strictly prohibited from consigning “rechargeable treasure” (rechargeable treasure is a small lithium battery is commonly known as), carry a maximum of 2 per person, and rechargeable treasure rated energy does not exceed 100W, not marked energy will be prohibited to carry.

Emergency Handling Countermeasures

Despite a series of preventive measures, the possibility of spontaneous combustion of lithium-ion batteries still exists. In case of spontaneous combustion of lithium-ion batteries, the following steps should be taken as a general rule for emergency treatment.

(1) Cut off the power supply first. If the battery is charging the process of high heat, surface bulging, smoke and other phenomena, the battery will soon be spontaneous combustion, or even an explosion, so it should be the first time to cut off the power supply.

(2) When the battery spontaneous combustion, the battery should immediately do continuous cooling treatment, water extinguishing is the most ideal solution. If the fire is large, you can use ABC dry powder fire extinguisher or carbon dioxide fire extinguisher to extinguish the fire, and then use water to the damaged battery to continue to cool down, and every 5 min to check the battery has been spontaneous combustion, if it is still hot, then continue to use water for the battery to cool down until the completion of the cooling. Since lithium-ion batteries are a kind of chemical combustion, if they are not cooled continuously, chemical reactions will continue to take place inside the batteries, and the combustion will not stop.

(3) Simple lithium metal combustion, belongs to class D fire, can not use water as a fire extinguishing agent, CO2, BC and ABC dry powder fire extinguishing agent and other conventional fire extinguishing agent can not be used”. However, lithium-ion batteries, lithium in the form of oxides or salts, water has a strong inertia, so it is safe to fight with water.

(4) If possible, move the damaged battery to an open safe area and quickly evacuate the surrounding crowd. This will reduce the potential fire hazard by exposing people and property to one another. Electrolyte fumes and vapors are combustible and heavier than air. Thus, they can move along the ground to another ignition source causing a secondary fire.

(5) When conditions permit, quickly remove combustible materials around the battery where spontaneous combustion occurs. Lithium batteries spontaneous combustion, resulting in high-temperature electrolyte fumes and vapors, the density of which is greater than air, and therefore can be quickly spread along the ground to the surrounding area, igniting the surrounding combustibles, which in turn caused a wider range of fire.

(6) Do not use ice to cool down the lithium battery. As the fire is caused by chemical reaction, with ice like an igloo covered the outside, and the internal heat does not come out, the sustained high temperature further promote the chemical reaction intensified, at this time, the internal temperature will rise rapidly, the electrolyte gas accumulates in large quantities, which triggered the explosion of the battery, its power and destructive than the battery calms the spontaneous combustion of the more terrible.

(7) Even if there is an open fire, you should avoid the use of foam fire extinguishers, spray foam attached to the periphery of the battery to form a thermal insulator, thereby increasing. Chemical reaction, generating more heat.

We fully enjoy such as lithium batteries, such as material products, for the convenience of life, but also should always maintain vigilance on it. Especially when taking it on the airplane, we should always be careful and strictly follow the regulations. If not used properly, it will bring harm to the people on the whole airplane, resulting in significant loss of personnel and property.

Therefore, we need to understand the principle of lithium batteries in life, familiar with the accident prevention measures, master the emergency disposal methods, especially in the face of lithium batteries heat, smoke, and even spontaneous combustion, can be dealt with calmly. Carrying lithium batteries on the plane in strict accordance with the provisions of the airline, not more than with no violation of the carry-on.

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