Lithium battery powered vehicles have experienced a surge in popularity in recent years – due to a combination of factors including environmental concerns, technological advancements, and government incentives.
In 2021, the global lithium ion battery market was valued at $54.6 billion. By 2030, it’s estimated to reach $257 billion. With the demand for lithium ion batteries growing at an unprecedented pace, large amounts of these batteries and devices that are powered by these batteries are shipped across the world every single day.
While lithium batteries have become integral to modern technology and sustainable transportation, they also pose potential hazards due to their chemical composition and energy storage characteristics. Lithium ion cells and batteries are classified as Class 9 (Miscellaneous) hazardous materials due to the risks they pose.
Risks Posed by Lithium Ion Cells and Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries contain a flammable electrolyte – typically a lithium salt in a liquid or gel form. This electrolyte is a key component for the ion movement within the battery, but its flammability poses a risk of fire or explosion if the battery is damaged or subjected to extreme conditions.
Potential for Thermal Runaway
Thermal runaway is a chain reaction of self-sustaining overheating within a battery cell. It can occur if the battery is damaged, overcharged, or exposed to high temperatures. This phenomenon can lead to a rapid release of energy, causing the battery to catch fire or explode.
The materials used in lithium batteries, including the electrodes and electrolyte, can undergo chemical reactions if the battery is damaged. These reactions may release toxic gases, adding an additional layer of potential hazards.
High Energy Density
Lithium batteries have a high energy density, meaning they can store a significant amount of energy in a compact space. While this is beneficial for powering electronic devices and electric vehicles, it also means that if there is a failure, a large amount of energy can be released quickly, leading to safety concerns.
Risk of Short Circuits
If a lithium battery is physically damaged or improperly manufactured, there is a risk of internal short circuits. Short circuits can lead to rapid, uncontrolled discharges of energy, resulting in overheating, fire, or even an explosion.
During transportation, lithium batteries can be subject to mechanical shocks, temperature extremes, and other conditions that could lead to damage.
The Need for Lithium Batteries Training
Data shows that lithium battery related accidents on aircrafts have increased by more than 40% over the last five years. Since 2021, on average, at least one lithium battery related accident has been reported every week, which is a very worrying statistic.
The problem with lithium ion batteries is that once they catch fire, it can be very hard to put out. It can be particularly problematic in a confined space like a truck, aircraft, or vessel, as an explosion can lead to catastrophic consequences.
The only way to reduce the risk of these incidents is to make sure lithium batteries and devices powered by these batteries are properly packaged, marked, labeled, and documented so that they can be safely transported. This is where hazmat training comes into the picture.
How Hazmat Training Can Reduce the Risk of Lithium Battery Related Accidents
Hazmat training is crucial for hazmat employees and shippers to ensure the safe handling, packaging, and transportation of lithium batteries. It can educate hazmat employees on the potential risks associated with lithium batteries and equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to mitigate these risks.
Here is an overview of how hazardous materials training can address the safe handling and shipping of lithium batteries.
Understanding Hazards and Regulations
Hazmat training can provide a comprehensive understanding of the hazards posed by lithium batteries, including the risk of fire, explosion, and chemical exposure.
Employees can learn about relevant regulations and guidelines such as those outlined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, and the Department of Transportation (DOT). Understanding and complying with these regulations is crucial for safe transportation.
Classification and Packaging
Employees can learn how to correctly classify and identify lithium batteries based on their size, chemistry, and other characteristics. They can also learn proper packaging techniques to prevent damage, short circuits, or other issues that could lead to safety hazards during transportation.
Labeling and Marking
Employees can learn how to accurately label packages containing lithium batteries. This includes using the appropriate hazard labels and markings to communicate the potential dangers to those involved in transportation.
Employees can learn how to complete shipping papers accurately, providing essential information about the lithium batteries being transported. This documentation is crucial for regulatory compliance and emergency response.
Emergency Response Procedures
Employees can be trained to respond effectively in the event of an emergency like a fire or spill involving lithium batteries. This includes understanding the appropriate use of firefighting equipment, personal protective gear, and emergency communication procedures.
Hazmat University Offers Up-To-Date Lithium Batteries Training Courses Online
Hazmat University offers initial as well as recurrent online hazmat training courses for hazmat employees, shippers, freight forwarders, and others involved in the transportation of lithium batteries. We provide self-paced and easy-to-follow online training courses that cover the specifics of lithium battery transportation by air, ground, or vessel. We also offer multimodal courses that combine the regulatory requirements for all forms of lithium batteries transportation.
With these courses, hazmat professionals can develop the skills and knowledge necessary to handle and ship lithium batteries safely, which can reduce the risks associated with these potentially hazardous materials. To learn how you can benefit from our lithium batteries training courses, call us today at 844-247-1951 or fill out our online contact form.
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