How to Find Watt-hour Rating of Lithium-ion Batteries
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When applied to a lithium-ion battery, watt-hour rating is a measurement of how much energy (in watts) the battery will expend over one hour. Knowing the watt-hour rating of a lithium-ion battery is crucial to ship it safely by ground, air, or vessel.
Shippers use the watt-hour rating to determine how the battery must be packaged, marked, and labeled, as well as what kind of quantity limitations apply to the shipment or whether the batteries are forbidden from certain modes of transport—namely passenger aircraft.
For newer lithium-ion batteries, determining the watt-hour rating should be as easy as checking the battery itself. Since December 31, 2011, all lithium-ion batteries, large (“Section I”) and small (“Section II”), must be marked with their watt-hour rating. As we move forward, it will become less and less likely that your batteries will not be marked with a watt-hour rating.
Finding the Lithium Battery Watt-hour Rating
However, if you do not see the watt-hour rating marked on the battery, the next place to check is technical documentation, like a product specification sheet. If the watt-hour rating doesn’t appear in either place—on the battery or on the spec sheet—you can calculate it using other information that may be available.
Formula for Calculating Lithium Battery Watt-hour RatingIf your lithium batteries do not have the watt-hour rating clearly marked on them, and the information is not included on a specification sheet, you can do some quick math to determine the watt-hour rating yourself, using some other information commonly found on the battery.
You will need to know:
- The battery’s nominal voltage (V); and
- its capacity in ampere-hours (Ah).
Note: If the capacity of your battery is expressed in milliampere hours (mAh)—like in the image above— you will need to divide by 1,000 to calculate the ampere-hours (Ah) before multiplying.
If the watt-hour rating of your lithium batteries is not readily available, or if you cannot calculate it or are unsure about the results, the best course of action is to contact the manufacturer directly to get accurate information. The stakes are too high to make guesses about how to prepare batteries for transport—US DOT fines are as high as $81,993 per day, per violation. Ground and air carriers are well aware of the hazards posed by lithium batteries, and will reject shipments that do not meet the latest regulatory requirements.
If All Else Fails, Contact the Manufacturer
Don’t let changing rules leave you out of compliance! Get up to speed on the lastest new requirements for shipping lithium batteries by ground, air, and vessel in 2020 and beyond.
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Tags: DOT, hazmat shipping, lithium batteries
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