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Lithium batteries are classified as dangerous goods and can pose a safety risk if not tested and packaged in accordance with the transport regulations. UN/DOT 38.3 testing helps ensure the safety of lithium ion or lithium metal batteries during shipping.
The transport of lithium batteries is subject to national and international regulations as detailed by the UN (United Nations) in the U.N. Manual of Tests and Criteria, Sub-section 38.3 (UN 38.3, UN International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the United States DOT (Department of Transportation) which defines shipping regulations for the U.S. under 49 CFR, Sections 100 – 185.
UN/DOT 38.3 details environmental, mechanical, and electrical requirements for all lithium cells and batteries. Manufacturers of lithium batteries and products using lithium batteries must demonstrate compliance in the design, manufacturing and distribution of their products.
Eight of the UN/DOT 38.3 test requirements applicable to the transportation of lithium batteries include:
T1 – Altitude Simulation (Primary and Secondary Cells and Batteries)
Low pressure testing that simulates unpressurized airplane 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)
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.
T3 – Vibration (Primary and Secondary Cells and Batteries)
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)
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.
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.
TÜV SÜD’s battery testing labs are accredited to ISO 17025 and can help ensure your batteries comply with international and industry standards.
UN38.3 is a self-declaration , TUV SUD can provide a third-party report to help you show conformance to the exception for shipping lithium ion cells and batteries.
TÜV SÜD’s comprehensive testing and certification services ensure you comply with all major industry standards. Our global network of testing labs and industry experts use the latest industry methods to support all necessary OEM Design Verification Plan and Report (DVP&R) requirements for materials, durability, shock & vibration, electrical, and EMC performance testing. TÜV SÜD is your single source for testing and certification services that will accelerate your time to global markets.
In addition to meeting OEM requirements for automotive component testing and compliance automotive testing ensures maximum safety for customers and protects brand reputation protection. Product testing can provide early detection of faults, enabling manufacturers to improve products and secure their reputation as a provider of quality components.
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