The transport of lithium batteries is subject to international regulation which can differ if the batteries are transported by air, sea or road. The UN (United Nations) issues recommendations for the transport of dangerous goods worldwide along with the United States DOT (Department of Transportation) which defines shipping regulations for the U.S. under 49 CFR, Sections 100 – 185. Together, both guidelines define test requirements for the safe packaging and shipment of lithium metal and lithium ion batteries.

Lithium batteries are classified as dangerous goods and can pose a safety risk if not manufactured, prepared, packaged, tested, and transported in accordance with the transport regulations. As an internationally-recognized independent test laboratory with 60 years of product safety expertise, we help you ensure your lithium batteries are compliant to transportation regulations to be considered safe for transport.

Our UN/DOT 38.3: Lithium Battery Transportation Testing Capabilities »
UN/DOT 38.3 details testing requirements that applicable to all lithium cells and batteries. Manufacturers of lithium batteries and products using lithium batteries must account for these testing requirements in the design, manufacture and distribution of their products. UN 38.3 presents a combination of significant environmental, mechanical, and electrical stresses designed to assess lithium batteries’ ability to withstand the anticipated rigors incurred during transport. MET can perform all required tests according to UN/DOT 38.3 from a single location.

T1 – Altitude Simulation (Primary and Secondary Cells and Batteries)

This is low pressure testing that simulates unpressurized airplane space (cargo area) at 15,000 meter altitude. After storing batteries at 11.6kPa for >6 hours, these criteria shall be met: no mass loss, leaking, venting, disassembly, rupture or fire, and voltage within 10% of pre-test voltage.

T2 – Thermal Test (Primary and Secondary Cells and Batteries)

This test covers changes in temperature extremes from -40C to +75C. Batteries are stored for 6 hours at -40C (12 hours for large cells/batteries), then 6 hours at +75C (12 hours for large cells/batteries), for a total of 10 cycles. Testing may be performed in a single chamber or thermal shock chamber, but less than 30 minute transitions shall be used.

T3 – Vibration (Primary and Secondary Cells and Batteries)

This test simulates vibration during transportation. Test is a Sine Sweep: 7Hz – 200Hz – 7Hz in 15 Minutes; 12 Sweeps (3 hours); 3 mutually perpendicular axes.

T4 – Shock (Primary and Secondary Cells and Batteries)

This test also simulates vibration during transportation. Test is a Half-Sine pulse: 150G/6ms for small cells/batteries; 50G/11ms for large cells/batteries; 3 pulses per direction; 6 directions (+/-z, +/-x, +/-y).

T5 – External Short Circuit (Primary and Secondary Cells and Batteries)

This test simulates an external short to the terminals of the cell or battery. At temperature of +55C, apply short circuit (<0.1ohm) across terminals. Maintain at least an hour after sample temperature returns to +55 +/-2°C. Pass criteria are: Case temperature does not exceed +170°C and no disassembly, rupture, or fire within 6 hours of test. Fuse, current limiting circuit, and venting mechanism activation are allowable.

T6 – Impact (Primary and Secondary Cells)

This test is only applicable to primary and secondary cells. For cylindrical cells >20mm diameter, it simulates impact to case of cell. For cylindrical cells

T7 – Overcharge (Secondary Batteries)

This test is for secondary or rechargeable batteries only. It simulates an overcharge condition on a rechargeable battery: 2x the manufacturer’s recommended charge current for 24 hours. Then battery shall be monitored for 7 days for fire or disassembly.

T8 – Forced Discharge (Primary and Secondary Cells)

This testing simulates a forced discharge condition for primary and secondary cells only.

Related Testing Capabilities:

  • Package Testing
  • Shock and vibration testing