Guidelines for arranging international transportations for lithium ion battery energy storage devices.

23 Feb 2024

By Richie Lin    Photo:CANVA

Renewable energies such as solar and wind power have been the major resources to reduce the carbon emissions around the world. However, the crucial disadvantage of those renewable energies is the time limits of producing powers. Solar panels can only produce powers when there is sunshine. It has no functions during night time and cloudy days.

And wind turbine can only function when there are enough winds to rotate the wind blades. Therefore, an energy storage equipment or a combined energy storage cabinet will be necessary if any countries want to expand the pervasiveness of renewable energies. For example, solar panels generate renewable energy. They deliver the necessary power to power-consuming devices.

If there is excess power, it is sent to the energy storage equipment for storage. Stored electricity is used when solar energy is not being generated (such as at night). Then repeat this process in an automated manner as needed. Accordingly, energy storage equipment can have such advantages as

1. avoiding the threat of short-term peak power consumption;

2. disconnect from the grid if necessary;

3. ensure smooth transition between usable/unusable renewable energy.


The fastest growing energy storage system in the world is electrochemical energy storage.


There are many types of electrochemical energy storage, among which lead-acid batteries have a very low cost advantage and are widely used in power batteries such as starting batteries for automobiles and motorcycles, electric bicycles, and energy storage batteries such as uninterruptible power systems.


But the problem is that it has a short service life and is not environmentally friendly. The biggest advantage of lithium batteries is their high energy density, and their manufacturing costs are declining with the scale effect of the electric vehicle market. They are currently the most widely used battery for electrochemical energy storage.


Since energy storage equipment powered by lithium battery will become more and more popular around the world, the international transportations of it need our special attention to avoid the dangers during the transits on the air, ocean. Hence, let’s spend time on discussing how to arrange the transportations of lithium battery energy storage equipment safely.


First of all, we need to identify the proper shipping name of lithium battery energy storage equipment.


The proper shipping name (PSN) is a standardized technical term used to describe the hazard properties and composition of dangerous goods during transportation. When dealing with hazardous materials, it’s crucial to accurately identify the proper shipping name. People need to understand that PSN is different from the commercial name. The most popular lithium battery in the energy storage equipment is the lithium-ion battery, so the PSN is Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment.


Secondly, based on the PSN, we can check the Dangerous Goods Regulations issued by the IATA to find out the relevant UN number. The un number for Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment is UN3481 listed on the Dangerous Goods Regulations. Thirdly, use the PSN and UN number to match the Packing Groups and Packing Instructions. Packing groups classify hazardous substances based on their degree of danger. These groups help determine the appropriate packaging required for transporting dangerous goods. Packing instructions are essential guidelines for safely packaging and transporting dangerous goods.


The UN Model Dangerous Goods Regulations provide specific packing instructions for various classes of dangerous goods. These instructions typically require the use of UN performance-tested packages. On DGR, we can see the packing instruction for UN 3481 is PI 967 and PI 967 divides into 2 divisions. One is PI967 section I and the other is PI967 section II. Section I applies where the equipment contains lithium ion batteries with a Watt-hour rating in excess of 100 Wh, which must be assigned to Class 9 dangerous goods and the equipment must be packed inside the UN packages. Section II applies where the equipment contains lithium ion batteries with as Watt-hour rating not in excess of 100 Wh, which can be treated as non-dangerous goods and can be packed by normal packages.

Whether the equipment can be applied to section I or section II, the equipment must be in strong rigid outer packaging and the equipment must be secured against movement within the outer packaging and must be equipped with affective means of preventing accidental activation. And the net quantity of single package is within the 5 kgs for passenger flight and 35kgs for cargo aircraft.


For example, a customer wants to ship out an equipment containing lithium ion batteries inside. First step is to ask for SDS or MSDS to check if the lithium ion batteries with as Watt-hour rating is excess of or less than100 Wh. If the Watt-hour rating is over 100Wh, we must declare the equipment as the dangerous goods and do the necessary dangerous goods preparation such as using UN package, providing UN 38.3 test report, providing the shipper’s declaration of dangerous good to the airlines, sticking the labels of Class 9 dangerous goods and UN 3481 battery.


And the net quantity of each box cannot be over 35kg, otherwise customer needs to choose ocean freight. Please note above descriptions are general guidelines, and each airline, shipping line, even country might have special requirement for accepting the lithium ion battery energy storage devices.

If you need more detailed information, please consult richie_lin@tgl-group.net for more professional advices. 

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