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Interpretation Response #20-0061

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: LG Chem Michigan, Inc.

Individual Name: Ms. Sarah Kim

Location State: MI Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

October 14, 2020

Ms. Sarah Kim
Environmental Specialist
LG Chem Michigan, Inc.
1 LG Way
Holland, MI  49423

Reference No. 20-0061

Dear Ms. Kim:

This is in response to your July 1, 2020, letter requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to lithium batteries. In your letter, you describe your company's multi-step process for the production of lithium batteries and note that quality defects are identified during the production process, resulting in the generation of scrap materials. Further, you indicate that these scrap materials are assembled units that include the electrode stack, which consists of layers of lithium-based cathode product and graphite-based anode product, and the electrolyte solution. The discarded assembled units have not undergone the "formation" process, in which lithium ions are embedded in the crystal structure of the graphite anode. You ask whether your understanding is correct and that the discarded assembled units you describe do not meet the definition of a lithium ion or lithium metal battery as defined in § 171.8 and, therefore, are not subject to the associated package, labeling, and marking requirements in § 173.185.

The HMR's definition of a lithium ion battery states, in relevant part, that "lithium ion battery means 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." A lithium metal battery is "an electrochemical cell or battery utilizing lithium metal or lithium alloys as the anode." See § 171.8. Provided the discarded assembled units described in your letter never undergo the formation process, they are not subject to the requirements provided in § 173.185 applicable to lithium batteries. However, if any electrolyte remaining in the scrap materials meets the definition of a "flammable liquid” as provided in § 173.120, the scrap materials may be subject to corresponding requirements of the HMR.

I hope this information is helpful. Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.


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

171.8, 173.120, 173.185

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.8 Definitions and abbreviations
173.120 Class 3-Definitions
173.185 Lithium cells and batteries