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Interpretation Response #14-0167 ([Currie Associates, Inc.] [Mr. Tom Ferguson])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Currie Associates, Inc.

Individual Name: Mr. Tom Ferguson

Location State: NY Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

March 13, 2015

Mr. Tom Ferguson
Director of Technical Services
Currie Associates, Inc.
10 Hunter Brook Lane
Queensbury, NY 12804

Reference No. 14-0167

Dear Mr. Ferguson:

This is in response to your September 11, 2014 inquiry requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to the classification of a Aqueous hybrid ion rechargeable battery. Specifically, you request confirmation that the Aqueous hybrid ion rechargeable battery described in your letter does not meet the definition of a lithium ion battery and suggest that the requirements of Special Provision 130, applicable to "Batteries, dry, sealed, n.o.s." may be more appropriate.

In accordance with § 173.22, it is the shipper's responsibility to properly classify a hazardous material. This Office generally does not perform this function. However, based on the information you provided relevant to the battery's components and electrolyte, the battery does appear to meet the definition of a lithium ion cell or battery. In section 38.3 of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria a lithium ion cell or battery is defined as a "rechargeable electrochemical cell or battery in which the positive and negative electrodes are both intercalation compounds (intercalated lithium exists in an ionic or quasi-atomic form with the lattice of the electrode material)..." The battery under consideration uses aqueous electrolyte with a lithium-containing cathode as in the case of "lithium ion cells or batteries," and works on the principle of intercalating lithium ions as well as sodium ions. For these types of batteries, hazards include inherent electrical energy and rise of temperature should short-circuiting occur. In addition, because of the low operating voltages, application of any high voltage for recharging will result in electrolysis of water which generates flammable hydrogen and oxygen. These hazards must be addressed in the classification of aqueous electrolyte based lithium ion cells and batteries.

Special provision 130 applies to dry batteries not specifically covered by another entry in the §172.101 Hazardous Materials Table (HMT). Some similarities in hazard exist between dry batteries and aqueous batteries in terms of electrical energy and short circuiting potential; however, in our opinion the Aqueous hybrid ion rechargeable battery described in your letter meets the definition of a lithium ion battery and is covered by an entry in the HMT, and therefore would not be eligible for transport in accordance with special provision 130, unless under the terms of a Special Permit.

I hope this satisfies your request.

Sincerely,

 

Duane A. Pfund
International Standards Coordinator
Standards and Rulemaking Division

173.22, 172.101

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
172.101 Purpose and use of hazardous materials table
173.22 Shipper's responsibility