AIR TRANSPORTATION OF LITHIUM BATTERIES

AIR TRANSPORTATION OF LITHIUM BATTERIES

with Extover® as extinguishing agent and packaging filler

More than 100 million lithium batteries are transported by aircraft every year. They are installed in laptops, smart phones, digital cameras, electric appliances or the onboard aircraft systems.

Lithium batteries are of great interest to industry because their energy density is so high: it is 150 watt-hours per kg for lithium batteries, 100 watt-hours per kg for nickel-cadmium batteries and 25 watt-hours per kg for lead-acid batteries. However, the high energy density is also associated with hazards. Lithium batteries can explode or catch fire if they are overloaded. The same applies to lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries.

Lithium cells are mainly produced in the Far East. They are flown to Europe or America, where they are for example assembled into large battery systems for electric cars. Due to their size and high value, lithium batteries are generally ideal for air freight. The cells are partially charged for transportation. Since they discharge over time, they are not sent by ship or held in warehouses.

More than one-third of all lithium batteries are transported by aircraft

 

This has recently led to an increasing number of incidents and fires in the aviation industry. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has reported incidents such as smoke, fire, pronounced heat development and explosions on board aircraft related to lithium batteries. In case of a thermal runaway, lithium batteries can reach temperatures of up to 1112° Fahrenheit. They can ignite each other in a chain reaction if there is a fire. Such fires are difficult to fight with conventional halon-1301 extinguishing systems in cargo planes. Structural damage to the fuselage is also possible due to the risk of explosions.

Cargo plane classification (according to FAA)

Class A Cargo

  • A fire can be easily detected by crew members
  • The cargo hold is easily accessible during the flight

Class C Cargo*

  • Fire detection system
  • Equipment to stop ventilation of the cargo hold
  • Equipment to protect the cockpit against smoke, flames or hazardous gases
  • Ventilation equipment for the cargo hold

*mainly cargo plane models

Class B Cargo

  • Equipped with smoke detector
  • or fire detection system to warn the pilot
  • The cargo hold is accessible to crew members with a handheld fire extinguisher during the flight
  • Separate cargo compartments are required to keep smoke, flames or fire fighting agents away from passengers
  • Equipment to control ventilation of the cargo hold

Class E Cargo **

  • Smoke detector or fire detection system
  • Built-in extinguishing system or alternative fire fighting equipment that can be controlled from the cockpit
  • Equipment to protect the passenger compartment against smoke, flames or hazardous gases
  • Equipment to control ventilation of the cargo hold

**Passenger aircraft with bottom cargo hold

Using Extover®

Extover® can be used as a fire suppressant and for fire prevention. The inert, non-combustible granulate which adsorbs electrolytes is ideal as a filler for packaging or special, fireproof transport containers for shipping lithium batteries. Unlike other fire protection agents, Extover® combines crucial advantages in a single product.

Extover® – the advantages

Combined extinguishing effect (suffocation of the fire, absorbency of thermal energy, displacement of oxygen)

Binding smoke gases

No danger to persons due to extinguishing foam or gases

No build-up of pressure for fire protection systems required

No damage due to extinguishing agents

Environmentally friendly material

Low technical cost

No maintenance cost

Low weight

Reusable