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Interpretation Response #16-0018 ([UPS Airlines] [Mr. Bob McClelland])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: UPS Airlines

Individual Name: Mr. Bob McClelland

Location State: GA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

June 23, 2016

Mr. Bob McClelland
Air Dangerous Goods Manager
UPS Airlines
55 Glenlake Parkway, NE
Atlanta, GA 30328-3474

Ref. No.: 16-0018

Dear Mr. McClelland

This responds to your email dated January 21, 2016, requesting clarification of the applicability of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) to power banks or supplemental power units containing lithium ion batteries.  Specifically you ask whether for the purposes of the HMR such articles are considered “UN3480, Lithium ion batteries” or “UN3481, Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment.”
The HMR define Lithium ion cell or battery as a rechargeable electrochemical cell or battery in which the positive and negative electrodes are both lithium compounds constructed with no metallic lithium in either electrode (see § 171.8). The HMR further define equipment as the device or apparatus for which the lithium cells or batteries will provide electrical power for its operation (see § 173.185).
Based on these criteria, power banks or supplemental power units containing lithium ion batteries are best described as “UN3480, Lithium ion batteries.” The battery housed inside a power bank does not power the power bank in the same manner as a battery powers an electric wheelchair or a laptop computer.  Rather, a battery in a power pack is used to supply electric power to separate equipment.  Thus, for purposes of the HMR, a power bank is a battery and must be transported using a proper shipping name that most appropriately describes the battery type housed in the power bank.
I hope this answers your inquiry.  If you need additional assistance, please contact the Standards and Rulemaking Division at (202) 366-8553.


Duane A. Pfund
International Standards Coordinator
Standards and Rulemaking Division
171.8, 173.185

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.8 Definitions and abbreviations
173.185 Lithium cells and batteries