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Interpretation Response #15-0146 ([MGA Research Corporation] [Mr. Michael Greiner])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: MGA Research Corporation

Individual Name: Mr. Michael Greiner

Location State: NY Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

December 14, 2015

Mr. Michael Greiner
Director, Laboratory Operations
Technical Services Lab
MGA Research Corporation
12790 Main Road
Akron, NY  14001

Reference No. 15-0146

Dear Mr. Greiner:

This is in response to your July 14, 2015 e-mail and telephone conversations with members of my staff requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to the transportation of “UN 3480, Lithium ion batteries, including lithium ion polymer batteries, 9 (miscellaneous)” and “UN 3090, Lithium metal batteries, including lithium alloy batteries, 9.”  Specifically, you ask if safety features can be added to the batteries without having to retest them after they were initially tested successfully in accordance with § 38.3 of the United Nations (UN) Manual of Tests and Criteria.   

If the safety features added to a lithium battery may lead to it failing any of the tests prescribed in § 38.3 of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, the answer is no.  The provisions outlined in the 5th revised edition, Amendment 1, of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria provide guidance to make this testing determination.  PHMSA has incorporated the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Fifth revised edition, Amendment 1, by reference under § 171.7, but stresses the importance of testing after any material modifications in the design or manufacturing.  

Section (c) of the UN Manual states any change to a lithium battery that would lead to failure of any of the tests prescribed in this section must be considered a new type and subjected to the required tests.  It is the opinion of this Office that the person responsible for testing the batteries is the person responsible for making this decision.  Section (c) also describes the types of changes that may be considered sufficiently different from a tested type so that it might lead to a failure of a lithium battery test result.  These changes include but are not limited to:  

• A change in the material of the anode, the cathode, the separator or the electrolyte;
• A change of protective devices, including hardware and software;
• A change of safety design in cells or batteries, such as a venting valve;
• A change in the number of component cells; and
• A change in connecting mode of component cells.  

Further, § (c) states if a cell or battery type does not meet one or more of the UN Manual’s test requirements, the deficiency or deficiencies that caused the failure must be corrected before the cell or battery type is retested.  

I hope this information is helpful.


T. Glenn Foster
Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division

38.3, 171.7, (c)

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.7 Reference material