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Subject: "Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?" Previous topic | Next topic
ZoneV Silver Member  US  Nikonian since 08th Jan 2005 Thu 31-Jan-13 09:59 PM
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"Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?"
Thu 31-Jan-13 10:03 PM by ZoneV


Does anyone have the final line regarding mailing of devices with LiOn batteries?

When I asked at the post office, I was told that loose LiOn batteries can no longer be mailed in any mail that will go on a plane. They must be installed in the device. Apparently, extra batteries would have to go in a separate shipment that is transported by truck.

Apparently this affects all mail that goes by plane, even within the US. But that's the part where I'm getting conflicting info when looking it up online.

If so, there are implications for camera equipment mailed within the US. Has anyone been asked if your shipment contains LiOn batteries? Anyone work for USPS and/or somehow know what the real deal is? I can't see having to split up shipments.

An undeniable paradox: To think that there is any such thing as an absolute rule is at worst naïve, and at best, shortsighted. There is no such thing as an always-true, all context- or situation-salient, absolute rule that always holds true…including this one!

  

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coolmom42 Silver Member Awarded for her enthusiastic support of the community and exemplifying the Nikonian mission “Share, Learn and Inspire”   McEwen, US  Nikonian since 01st Dec 2011 Fri 01-Feb-13 03:45 AM
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#1. "RE: Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?"
In response to Reply # 0
Fri 01-Feb-13 03:53 AM by coolmom42


I am a certified hazardous materials shipper, and although I do not normally deal with lithium ion batteries, I do know that there have been some big changes in the regulations recently. This is due to the potential for fire if the batteries are short-circuited or crushed in transit.

It's my understanding that Li-ion batteries are forbidden as cargo on passenger aircraft---and in some areas the USPS contracts to airlines that combine freight and passenger service.

So you can only send them by ground service through the post office.

FedEx will accept them for air shipment because FedEx does not use passenger aircraft. If you have a FedEx ship service near you, they can probably help you out with packaging and labelling.

Air transport of hazardous materials (even within the US) is (by DOT regulation) governed by IATA--the International Air Transport Association. So the rules around safety are the same regardless of domestic or international destination.

This is a link to info I found on the USPS web site. Section 349.222 is the relevant information to your needs.

http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c3_024.htm

Hope that helps.

working on it in Middle TN
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coolmom42 Silver Member Awarded for her enthusiastic support of the community and exemplifying the Nikonian mission “Share, Learn and Inspire”   McEwen, US  Nikonian since 01st Dec 2011 Fri 01-Feb-13 03:55 AM
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#2. "RE: Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?"
In response to Reply # 0



Also, you need to make sure that you are distinguishing between lithium-ion batteries (which you have) and primary lithium metal batteries (which you do not have.) Make sure that whoever you are talking to understands that as well.

working on it in Middle TN
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timpsm   Salt Spring Island, CA  Registered since 17th Sep 2010 Fri 01-Feb-13 05:01 AM
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#3. "RE: Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?"
In response to Reply # 1



If they are not allowed as cargo on a passenger plane, then they logically are just as dangerous in checked luggage on a plane or as carry-on . . . how far does this go?

tim

  

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benveniste Moderator Awarded for is high level skills in various areas, including Macro and Landscape Photography Donor Ribbon. Awarded for his generous suppport to the Fundraising Campaign 2014   Boston Area, US  Nikonian since 25th Nov 2002 Fri 01-Feb-13 01:51 PM
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#4. "RE: Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?"
In response to Reply # 3



In the U.S. there are restrictions on lithium-based batteries in both checked and carry-on luggage. You should not pack "spare" batteries in checked luggage at all, and for carry-ons the number and type of "larger" lithium batteries is restricted:

See: http://safetravel.dot.gov/whats_new_batteries.html

"There is no real magic in photography, just the sloppy intersection of physics and art." — Kirk Tuck

  

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Covey22 Moderator Expert in various fields including aviation photography Awarded for his contributions to the Resources and The Nikonian eZine   US  Charter Member Fri 01-Feb-13 05:46 PM
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#5. "RE: Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?"
In response to Reply # 4



Presumably putting them in carry-on luggage increases the possibility of detecting a thermal overload or runaway condition. People will see/smell the smoke and the flames.

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coolmom42 Silver Member Awarded for her enthusiastic support of the community and exemplifying the Nikonian mission “Share, Learn and Inspire”   McEwen, US  Nikonian since 01st Dec 2011 Sat 02-Feb-13 12:18 AM
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#6. "RE: Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?"
In response to Reply # 3



>If they are not allowed as cargo on a passenger plane, then
>they logically are just as dangerous in checked luggage on a
>plane or as carry-on . . . how far does this go?
>
>tim


Fire is the danger. The cargo hold is not accessible or visible to crew or passengers.... so a fire there could easily go undetected until it was out of control and damaging the rest of the plane. Also cargo is subject (as we all know) to very rough handling. The problem with fire comes when the batteries get crushed or short-circuited.

So cargo does have the potential to be more dangerous than a carry-on.

working on it in Middle TN
Nikon D3100

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DeanAZ Moderator Expert nature photographer   Phoenix, US  Nikonian since 28th Apr 2007 Sat 02-Feb-13 07:40 AM
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#7. "RE: Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?"
In response to Reply # 0



It seems that Boeing is having some LiOn battery issues as well. Hope they get it sorted out.

Dean
Phoenix, Arizona USA
Nikonians Team Member
Website: The Splendid Silence of Light

Recent Trips: Grand Canyon 2012 Glen Canyon 2012 West Clear Creek

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gkaiseril Gold Member  Chicago, US  Nikonian since 28th Oct 2005 Sun 03-Feb-13 05:46 PM
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#8. "RE: Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?"
In response to Reply # 5
Sun 03-Feb-13 05:49 PM by gkaiseril


There is a size limit for carry on batteries and you should either have them in equipment or a protective carrier or cover that prevents the battery terminals from being shorted. The size and power levels of the camera and flash batteries is well under the limits.

Japan has enacted a law that resulted in the terminals on newer camera models being more protected and certain Nikon models from being sold in Japan.

The issue is the energy density within the battery and the chemical makeup of the battery. Lithium is a very flammable material and if LiOn battery shorts the drain and subsequent heat from the chemical reaction will ignite the Lithium. This has occurred with cell phones and laptop computers. Now there is electrical circuitry within the battery that attempts to limit the current draw during heavy user or a short condition, but that current draw could possibly damage the fail safe.

Baggage areas are not pressurized and temperature controlled to the same levels as the passenger compartment which could possibly in combination open defects in packaging.

The bottom line is common sense in handling the batteries and number you must carry with you.

If you have so much gear, you might want to consider shipping your equipment by FedEx or DHL to and from your remote locations. This will require a trusted receiver at both ends.


George
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ZoneV Silver Member  US  Nikonian since 08th Jan 2005 Mon 04-Feb-13 12:14 AM
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#9. "RE: Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?"
In response to Reply # 8
Mon 04-Feb-13 12:24 AM by ZoneV


>The issue is the energy density within the battery and the
>chemical makeup of the battery. Lithium is a very flammable
>material and if LiOn battery shorts the drain and subsequent
>heat from the chemical reaction will ignite the Lithium.

The elemental forms of Na, Li, and H (group 1) are all pretty dangerous, yikes! Lithium is even more reactive than hydrogen, I believe. Thankfully the batteries use Lithium in a more stable ionic compound/salt (Li+) and not Li metal or free ions. Much more stable for battery storage!

Imagine what will happen when Hydrogen fuel cells become common as power sources for small devices. Hydrogen (elemental) is pretty unstable...yikes. Or a lithium fuel cell (not an engineer; no idea if such a thing can actually exist, but I know it would not be stable).

An undeniable paradox: To think that there is any such thing as an absolute rule is at worst naïve, and at best, shortsighted. There is no such thing as an always-true, all context- or situation-salient, absolute rule that always holds true…including this one!

  

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coolmom42 Silver Member Awarded for her enthusiastic support of the community and exemplifying the Nikonian mission “Share, Learn and Inspire”   McEwen, US  Nikonian since 01st Dec 2011 Mon 04-Feb-13 12:45 AM
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#10. "RE: Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?"
In response to Reply # 9



And this is a huge obstacle (I believe rightly so!) to the widespread use of hydrogen fuel cells.

working on it in Middle TN
Nikon D3100

35 mm 1.8 Nikkor
18-55 mm Nikkor VR
55-200 mm Nikkor VR
55-300 mm Nikkor VR
150-500 mm Sigma OS
Feisol CT3471 & Markins M20 ballhead

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gkaiseril Gold Member  Chicago, US  Nikonian since 28th Oct 2005 Mon 04-Feb-13 04:12 PM
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#11. "RE: Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?"
In response to Reply # 9
Tue 05-Feb-13 06:38 PM by gkaiseril


The chemical makeup is not elemental Lithium, but a compound that is more stable. Unfortunately it is a chemical compound and heat or electricity can and does change chemical compounds. Most batteries work on this principal. In fact your car's starter battery and rechargeable batteries rely on this fact to release energy and then change back to the original state by electrical charging, applying electricity in the reverse polarity, to return the chemicals to their charged or starting state.

Many of the restrictions are for manufacturers shipping pallet size loads of batteries. If one goes off all the others are at risk of being set off and that quantity would be catastrophic.

I suggest keeping the terminal cover on all batteries not in a device, keep AA/AAA in plastic cases, or in small plastic zip lock bags in such a manner that they cannot be shorted out.

George
My Nikonian Galleries

  

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gkaiseril Gold Member  Chicago, US  Nikonian since 28th Oct 2005 Tue 05-Feb-13 03:40 PM
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#12. "RE: Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?"
In response to Reply # 10



It has been announced the battery failure was due to thermal breakdown. This means the heat being generated by the battery caused the failure of the electronics or started a fire of nearby material or the material within the battery.

George
My Nikonian Galleries

  

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dagoldst Gold Member  Little Rock, US  Nikonian since 02nd Dec 2012 Tue 05-Feb-13 05:32 PM
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#13. "RE: Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?"
In response to Reply # 10
Tue 05-Feb-13 05:33 PM by dagoldst


>And this is a huge obstacle (I believe rightly so!) to the
>widespread use of hydrogen fuel cells.

Storing hydrogen would be an issue, but it's my understanding that extracting hydrogen in a fuel cell such as Ballards would not be that big a deal, it is only making what is needed on demand for the application, (such as electricity for an electric car).

For reference,
http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/consumer/hydrogen/basics/fuelcells.htm

David

"Sawed that board three times and it is still too short... "

  

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nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support   US  Registered since 25th Jul 2004 Tue 12-Feb-13 07:04 PM
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#14. "RE: Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?"
In response to Reply # 6




>Fire is the danger. The cargo hold is not accessible or
>visible to crew or passengers.... so a fire there could easily
>go undetected until it was out of control and damaging the
>rest of the plane. Also cargo is subject (as we all know) to
>very rough handling. The problem with fire comes when the
>batteries get crushed or short-circuited.
>
>So cargo does have the potential to be more dangerous than a
>carry-on.
>

I guess a lot of people have forgotten about ValueJet flight 592, which crashed in the Everglades in 1996, killing 110 people on board.

The fire was due to some oxygen equipment, not batteries, but the principle is the same. A fire in the cargo hold is a Really Bad Thing, and not just on a theoretical level.

There are or used to be a lot of home DIY videos on the net illustrating Li-Ion batteries blowing up and burning like blow torches.

Remote control plane hobbyists use DIY Li-Ion cell packs and DIY charging systems to power their planes. Last I heard, it is considered a Very Bad Idea to recharge those DIY Li-Ion cells indoors, due to real world fire hazards.

Although commercial batteries have built in "fail-safes" that those hobbyist DIY rigs may lack, anything can fail, even fail-safes. The regs are a PITA but so was the ValueJet 592 crash, and so there we are.

_________________________________
Neil


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coolmom42 Silver Member Awarded for her enthusiastic support of the community and exemplifying the Nikonian mission “Share, Learn and Inspire”   McEwen, US  Nikonian since 01st Dec 2011 Wed 13-Feb-13 01:22 AM
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#15. "RE: Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?"
In response to Reply # 14



>
>>Fire is the danger. The cargo hold is not accessible or
>>visible to crew or passengers.... so a fire there could
>easily
>>go undetected until it was out of control and damaging
>the
>>rest of the plane. Also cargo is subject (as we all know)
>to
>>very rough handling. The problem with fire comes when
>the
>>batteries get crushed or short-circuited.
>>
>>So cargo does have the potential to be more dangerous than
>a
>>carry-on.
>>
>
>I guess a lot of people have forgotten about ValueJet flight
>592, which crashed in the Everglades in 1996, killing 110
>people on board.
>
>The fire was due to some oxygen equipment, not batteries, but
>the principle is the same. A fire in the cargo hold is a
>Really Bad Thing, and not just on a theoretical level.
>
>There are or used to be a lot of home DIY videos on the net
>illustrating Li-Ion batteries blowing up and burning like blow
>torches.
>
>Remote control plane hobbyists use DIY Li-Ion cell packs and
>DIY charging systems to power their planes. Last I heard, it
>is considered a Very Bad Idea to recharge those DIY Li-Ion
>cells indoors, due to real world fire hazards.
>
>Although commercial batteries have built in
>"fail-safes" that those hobbyist DIY rigs may lack,
>anything can fail, even fail-safes. The regs are a PITA but
>so was the ValueJet 592 crash, and so there we are.

Believe me, the group that regulates hazardous materials in air transport has not forgotten about it. IATA (International Air Transport Association) is constantly updating their regulations around objects like the oxygen generators. There is also a long list in the regs about items to be aware of that can contain hidden hazardous materials---things like camping equipment, toy vehicles, emergency flares, etc.

working on it in Middle TN
Nikon D3100

35 mm 1.8 Nikkor
18-55 mm Nikkor VR
55-200 mm Nikkor VR
55-300 mm Nikkor VR
150-500 mm Sigma OS
Feisol CT3471 & Markins M20 ballhead

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

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nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support   US  Registered since 25th Jul 2004 Wed 13-Feb-13 05:32 AM
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#16. "RE: Mailing LiOn batteries by USPS?"
In response to Reply # 15
Wed 13-Feb-13 10:46 AM by nrothschild


>> Believe me, the group that regulates hazardous materials in air transport has not forgotten about it.

I'm sure they haven't. I'm just surprised it took so long to get all those restrictions in place. I guess it took 911 to get all the necessary compliance equipment in place (all the luggage and cargo scanning gear).

What I meant by "a lot of people forgetting" is all us consumers and air travelers that complain about the regs. We've forgotten that planes really do crash when things blow up in the cargo holds.

I doubt that most people know that all those surge suppressors scattered around their houses have built in incendiary devices (the MOVs that shunt the surge). Since about 2000, they also have to have thermal fuses protecting at least some of the MOVs (but apparently not all of them). And the thermal fuses usually work, but not always.

Nothing directly to do with the matter at hand, but just to say that the average consumer does not understand and respect all the fire hazards they use in their daily lives.

_________________________________
Neil


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