TV-BAY Magazine Issue 66 June 2012
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Ask the experts Martyn Sly-Jex, Anton/Bauer What should I know about the chemistries behind lithium-ion batteries? W hen Li-ion cell chemistry was first introduced, it was hailed as a breakthrough, lightweight power solution for broadcast and video professionals. It incorporated high-energy density and low-self-discharge cells, promising superior performance benefits and minimal maintenance. While these new Li-ion cells could maintain their charge longer than other chemistries, if stored for extended periods of time, they would lose capacity and often die. Newer cell technologies have emerged to overcome these inadequacies, providing high-load capacities and substantially longer battery-life expectancy. Today, there are more than 12 different variants of Li-ion, with chemical mixes on anode and cathode material, such as manganese, iron phosphate and cobalt. It is important to note that the Li- ion electrolyte has a low flashpoint and therefore a low tolerance to overcharge. It can become volatile if over-discharged. Li-ion packs with imbalanced cells, for example, can readily lead to one cell igniting an entire pack. When purchasing batteries, one should look to a manufacturer that invests in high-quality cells from a leading cell manufacturer. High-quality cells are pre-tested and matched for balance, mitigating cell failure and potential hazards. What is important to know about travelling with my lithium- ion batteries? Over the past several years, in light of multiple air incidents involving batteries, government and global transportation agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) have issued bans and limitations on transporting Li-ion batteries. Li-ion batteries that are considered to be “dangerous goods” are those with more than 160 watt hours (Wh). Li-ion batteries between 101 and 160Wh sometimes incur carry- on and check-in luggage limitations. To ensure customers carry goods that meet international travel standards, all Anton/Bauer batteries are sold with compliable packaging and inspected to U.N. standards—whether they’re classified as dangerous goods or not. While we recommend that travelers consult the IATA and DOT websites for specifics, we have developed some helpful guidelines, based on IATA regulations, for traveling with Li-ion batteries. In carry-on baggage, you are able to fly with an unlimited amount of batteries under 100Wh. For batteries between 101Wh and 160Wh, passengers are limited to two batteries uninstalled, with any additional batteries required to be installed on a device. It is Anton/ Bauer’s recommendation that batteries not installed on equipment be individually protected to prevent short circuits. This requires placing them in the original packaging or otherwise insulating terminals, which can be accomplished by placing tape over terminals or ensuring each battery is packed in a separate plastic bag, for example. Any battery that is 160Wh or more is forbidden as carry-on luggage. When checking batteries, any batteries less than 160Wh must be installed on a device. Again, air travel with batteries 160Wh or more is forbidden. Carry- on and check-in luggage containing Li-ion batteries are ultimately subject to individual airline and TSA approvals. How can I ensure my Li-ion battery is safe? It all begins with the investment you make. Well-designed Li-ion- based batteries have built-in safety mechanisms. One such example is the honeycomb cell design, where each individual battery cell is self-contained. This prevents cells that are damaged from damaging adjacent cells, as the thermal heat transfer is minimized. It 46 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE