Lithium-Ion Battery Shipments Require Extra Precautions, But Shipping Full Gas Tanks is Illegal and Downright Ludicrous

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 6

Would You Rather Ship This?

Would You Rather Ship This?

Awhile ago, Automotive News posted on the dangers of shipping lithium-ion battery packs.  That article quoted DHL’s head of automotive logistics, whose name we won’t mention here.

What the DHL exec stated was that lithium-ion batteries are classified as “dangerous goods” and that special precautions must be taken to ship them.  For example, used battery packs must be shipped ground, as they can’t be transported via air.  The exec added that DHL uses special packaging to protect li-ion batteries during shipment.

That’s all logical, right?

Or Would You Rather Ship What Caused This?

Or Would You Rather Ship What Caused This?

Who wouldn’t take extra care when shipping such a large and heavy item?  And air transport has tons of restrictions when it comes to even slightly “dangerous goods.”

Okay, so shipping a li-ion pack presents some difficulties.  No surprise there.  But what the Automotive News article ignored is that shipping a full gas tank is, dare we say, ridiculous.

In some ways, a complete lithium-ion battery pack is similar to a full tank of fuel.  Both provide the means for a vehicle to move on down the road.

Obviously, a gas tank would be empty when shipped, never full.  On the other hand, a battery pack can’t be “emptied” in this sense.  And then add in that handling of a tank full of fuel is extremely dangerous.  From this author’s first-hand knowledge at an automaker’s HQ, the draining of a fuel tank can only be conducted by highly trained personnel who must wear special equipment while carrying out the procedure is a room or area dedicated solely to this process

It’s this sort of one-sided reporting that irks us.  Why negatively portray electric vehicles when, on the flip side, the ICE issues are more severe?

Give DHL a ring and see if they’ll ship a full gas tank for you.  Or ask “What’ll it cost to ship a used, drained gas tank across the country?”  We all know what the answers will be

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6 responses to "Lithium-Ion Battery Shipments Require Extra Precautions, But Shipping Full Gas Tanks is Illegal and Downright Ludicrous"

  1. Taser54 says:

    This column does nothing to disprove that a new empty gas tank shipped from a factor poses zero danger, while a new li-ion battery shipped from the factory is hazardous.

  2. Anderlan says:

    If a traincar full of lithium batteries derails in your downtown, it’s not going to cause a mushroom cloud and kill 50 people.

  3. Anderlan says:

    The flammable part of a lithium battery is a pale comparison to high energy hydrocarbon fuels. And in the next generation of lithium there will be no flammable hydrocarbon constituent at all.

  4. kdawg says:

    When something is being shipped, isn’t a somewhat full gas tank always being shipped along with it as well?

  5. Brian says:

    Yes, shipping Lithium batteries is a pain. I’ve worked with systems with small (~AA-sized) batteries, which had to be removed and shipped separately, lest the entire system be treated as hazardous. A car battery would be significantly more dangerous. But the point is, these shipping companies have processes in place already to ship lithium batteries. They do it all the time. Sure, it’s more expensive and slower (must be shipped ground, not air) but far from a show stopper….

  6. Dave R says:

    “On the other hand, a battery pack can’t be “emptied” in this sense.”

    Well, while technically true, it is definitely safer to ship a battery is that charged to a low level than one that is charged full.