Lithium batteries have become established as a common form of energy storage for portable devices. They are used in a wide range of domestic, commercial, and industrial products, including mobile phones, laptops, tablets, cameras, cordless power tools, defibrillators, etc. They come various shapes, sizes, voltages, and charge capacities. Some of the button cells found in watches, and the battery packs in electric vehicles both use lithium based chemistry.
Lithium batteries can cause fires due to mishandling, misuse, or poor quality manufacturing. Increasingly, fires are starting at waste transfer stations and recycling facilities from damaged lithium batteries setting the surround waste alight. If the batteries or the product containing the battery proves to cause fires they are subject to recalls.
Because of their inherent danger they have stringent shipping controls placed on them, especially for for air transport.
Lithium batteries have differing chemical processes and are sold under names such as Li-ion, LiPo, lithium metal etc. The most common type used in consumer electronics is the Li-ion type and can be found in mobile phones, cameras, laptop computers, and may other portable electronic devices. LiPo batteries are common in remote controlled models. Lithium metal batteries have a number of specialist applications.
Lithium batteries are able to be recycled to recover the materials from which they are made. As well as lithium the Li-ion batteries contain cobalt, a valuable material that has various humanitarian issues associated with the mining of it, notably in Africa.
UN codes for lithium batteries
|UN 3090||9||Lithium metal batteries|
|UN 3091||9||Lithium metal batteries contained in equipment or Lithium metal batteries packed with equipment|
|UN 3480||9||Lithium ion batteries (including lithium ion polymer batteries)|
|UN 3481||9||Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment or Lithium ion batteries packed with equipment (including lithium ion polymer batteries)|