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Shipping of Lithium Ion Batteries via USPS Restrictions and Packages

Shipping of Lithium Ion Batteries via USPS Restrictions and Packages

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Lithium ion batteries (LIB), also written as Li-ion battery, is a type of secondary cell, i.e. it is a rechargeable battery type that can be charged, discharged and recharged severally. These batteries consist of one or more electrochemical cells connected together; a lithium based derived compound (e.g. lithium oxide) is used as the positive electrode, carbon (graphite) is used as the negative electrode, and the solution of lithium salt in an organic solvent serves as the electrolyte.

LIB operate over a wide range of temperature at high energy densities, and are mostly used in vehicles (e.g., electric cars and aircraft), power tools (drills, saws, hedge trimmers) and portable electronic devices (phones, laptops, digital cameras etc.). Li-ion batteries are mostly used in telecommunications services to provide electric power for devices to operate.

Generally, LIB come in shapes broadly classified into four, they are:

  • Small cylindrical solid shaped bodies without terminals
  • Large cylindrical solid shaped bodies with large threaded terminals
  • Flat soft shaped bodies
  • Rigid plastic shaped bodies with large threaded terminals

All of these shaped are designed to meet and fit the requirements of the various devices.

LIB operates at an energy density range of 250- 693W.h/L, and a normal cell voltage of between 3.2 to 3.85V depending on the battery type. Most LIBs have over time shown to have an efficiency of 80-90% of charge or discharge, with a cycle durability of 400 to 1200cycles.

The lithium ion batteries are produced and sent to various parts of the world for use; one of such platforms for sending LIB from the Unites States, is the USPS. USPS is United States Postal Service, and is US authorized post office for sending and receiving packages

Can you ship lithium ion batteries via USPS restrictions and packages?

Yes, Packages containing lithium ion batteries used in several electronic devices can be sent via local post offices such as USPS following certain laid down procedures.

Some of the common electronic devices containing lithium batteries or cells include: video cameras, walkie talkie, GPS devices, radio controlled toys, cameras, scanner, phones, tablets, laptops, Bluetooth headsets, mp3 players, power drills, portable DVD players and measuring devices.

Shipping Restrictions You Should Know

Lithium batteries are classified as miscellaneous hazardous materials, i.e. they may present a hazard during transportation.

For international mails, the following restrictions must be met

  • all miscellaneous hazards are forbidden; exceptions hold for small consumer type lithium batteries already installed in the device they operate.
  • The devices are properly sealed and are contained in a strong outer coverage to prevent damage or exposure of contents during handling of mail
  • damaged batteries cannot be mailed under any circumstance
  • each battery must be labelled in Watt hour
  • the watt hour rating must not exceed 20Wh per cell and 100 Wh per battery
  • for small lithium ion batteries, they must not exceed 0.3g of lithium content and must not exceed 2.7Wh
  • a maximum of 2 mail piece for a lithium ion battery consignment is allowed for each shipment
  • the device/ equipment must be well packaged to prevent it from being activated or turned on
  • mail packages must not be labelled in any way that shows the content as lithium batteries
  • all packaging must meet requirements specified in 49 CFR (cost and freight) 173.185

For domestic mails, the following restrictions must be met

When batteries are installed in the equipment

  • the watt hour rating must not exceed 20Wh per cell and 100 Wh per battery
  • all outer coverage/ package must have must have complete delivery and return address
  • the LIBs must already be in the equipment they operate
  • the batteries must be protected from damage or short circuit
  • equipment must be contained in sealed strong outer packaging to avoid damage or exposure during handling of mail
  • no mail piece should exceed 2.5kg, equivalent to 5.5 pounds.
  • Each mail piece should not exceed 8 cells or 2 batteries
  • Mail piece must display DOT (department of transportation) approved lithium battery mark on the side of the address

when batteries are NOT installed in the equipment

  • LIBs should be mailed in the original sealed packaging
  • Sealed packages must be carefully kept to prevent damage, movement or short circuit (direct connection between positive and negative terminals of a cell or battery leading to abnormal low resistance per current)
  • Mail piece must not exceed 5 pounds
  • Mail piece must display DOT approved lithium battery mark on the side of the address
  • Each mail piece should not exceed 8 cells or 2 batteries
  • Cells and batteries with a watthour rating less than 20Wh and 100Wh respectively can be mailed through air transportation if both mailed from and mailed to is within the state of Alaska, otherwise, surface transportation only is allowed.

How do you safely send lithium ion batteries via USPS?

Safety is achieved when instructions are adhered to; requirements and restriction put in place by the appropriate bodies governing lithium ion batteries transportation should be carefully followed to ensure safety for all parties. Depending on international or domestic mailings, the restrictions are properly and specifically spelt out.

The equipment or device in which the batteries are to function must be packed in strong, adequate fit and firm packaging and be fastened against movement within the outer coverage to avoid sudden activation, damage or exposure of content.

How do you package your lithium ion batteries properly?

 

LIBs must be packaged following the requirements below to endure safety

  • For air transport, the package must bear the DOT square on point marking, without the proper format
  • For surface transport, parcels must be marked on the address side with ‘surface only’ or ‘surface mail only’, followed by the proper shipping name
  • When the DOT square on point markings are used, it must be durable, readily visible and legible, following the appropriate size and position
  • Lithium ion batteries not put in the device to be mailed domestically, must be mailed in the original sealed packaging
  • The outer packaging must be well sealed using the required packaging, to prevent damage and exposure of content.
  • all packaging must meet requirements specified in 49 CFR (cost and freight) 173.185

lithium-ion battery  e-bike battery  lithium battery