Batteries and Accumulators

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Infobox on Batteries and Accumulators
Example of Batteries and Accumulators
Origin -
Stowage factor (in m3/t) -
Humidity / moisture -
Ventilation -
Risk factors See text


Usually shipped in boxes and crates.

When shipped filled with acid or alkali, reference is made to the relevant IMO regulations on hazardous cargo. Where cell lids of unfilled batteries become cracked or broken during transit, serious damage may result if they have been shipped with plates in a partially charged condition. Special care is needed in packing to ensure that maximum protection is afforded against shocks and handling that may be met during transit.

If the casing only is cracked it may be possible to dispose of the batteries to local garages or to public or private transport companies, who can refit the units into used but sound containers.

Alternatively, new cases may be available locally, as many makers have arrangements in various countries for these to be supplied as spares. Leaden elements of accumulators easily corrode, but what may at first sight appear to be serious salt-water damage may possibly be due to contact with fresh water. If in doubt, the surveyor should seek expert advice. Treated wooden separators are packed wet in lead foil to retain their moisture, and if allowed to become dry may develop cracks affecting conductivity. Rubber or ebonite separators are unaffected by contact with water.

Dry Batteries
Dry batteries stored beyond the normal shelf life period – which varies from two to twelve months or more according to the size and type of cell – are liable to suffer from corrosion of the zinc containers due to the action thereon of the salammoniac and other chemicals used. This corrosion will come through the outer cardboard covering of a radio or torch battery and damage anything with which it comes into contact. Alternatively, and also with age, the paste electrolyte may dry out almost completely. Either corrosion of the zincs or drying of the paste electrolyte renders dry batteries useless.

The principal enemies of dry batteries in storage are excessive heat or damp. A cool, dry store is essential. The discharge of a dry battery at a very high rate, such as would occur in accidental shorting, is liable to cause the paste electrolyte to liquefy. In large type cells, the lectrolyte might, under these conditions, ooze out from the packaging and cause damage again by corrosion to anything with which it came into contact.

Lead Acid Batteries
Usually shipped dry, without electrolyte in the cells, or components may be shipped loose. Damage suffered by cells shipped unassembled will either be mechanical or through entry of excessive moisture, fresh water or sea water, into the cells. Mechanical damage can be remedied by dismantling the battery and replacement of affected parts. Damage through entry of water will ruin the plates and separators if the amounts of moisture are considerable. In slight cases the effects of moisture can be minimized by the following treatment:

Fresh-water contamination
Batteries should be put into service normally, but the length of the first charge may have to be extended from the normal number of hours. At the end of the charge, chemical tests of the electrolyte should be carried out and a change of electrolyte may be necessary if impurities are present.

Sea-water contamination
Batteries should be put into service normally, but the length of the first charge may have to be extended from the normal number of hours. At the end of the charge the electrolyte should be changed and a further charge given. Chemical tests should be carried out and changes of electrolyte continued until impurity limits are satisfactory. The changing of electrolyte is most important. In the case of dry charged, partially dry charged, or short first charged batteries, entry of moisture would destroy the charge characteristics and it would be necessary to treat the batteries as standard long first charge types as above.

Breakage of seals or restrictive devices fitted to dry charged batteries may result in loss of dry charged characteristics although not necessarily in permanent damage to the cells if they are given an adequate first charge. Battery plates shipped loose may be damaged permanently if allowed to come into contact with moist packaging material. Such damage may not become evident until after the cells have been in service for some time. If moisture is suspected, the plates should be swilled in pure water and put into service at once. This treatment may only be partially effective.

Microporous plastic, or similar, separators may be rendered useless if accidently wetted. Wet treated wood separators will be damaged if the packing material is disturbed. Neither type of separator can be restored and should be destroyed. During transit, the temperature should be kept moderate and batteries or crates in which they are packed should be shielded from direct rays of the sun. Manufacturers should be consulted at once, if the amount of damage is to be kept to a minimum.

Lithium batteries
Electrical batteries containing lithium or lithium alloy encased in a rigid metallic body. Lithium batteries may also be shipped in equipment. Each battery may comprise one or more cells, with each cell not containing more than 12 grammes of lithium. Each battery should contain not more than 500 grammes of lithium. Cells and batteries should be equipped with an effective means of preventing external short circuits and should incorporate a safety venting device or be designed in such a manner that will preclude a violent rupture under normal conditions of transport. The design of cells and batteries not equipped with a safety venting device should be approved by the competent authority.

Batteries containing cells, or series of cells connected in parallel, should be equipped with diodes to prevent a reverse current flow. Electrical lithium batteries may cause fire due to an explosive rupture of the body caused by improper construction or reaction with contaminants.

Cells or batteries should be packaged with not more than 500 grammes of lithium in each package. They should be packaged in such a manner so as to effectively prevent short circuits and be securely cushioned so as to prevent movement which could lead to short circuits. Equipment containing lithium batteries should be secured against movement within any outer packaging and be packaged so as to prevent accidental operation during transport. The quantity of lithium metal contained in any battery in a piece of equipment should not exceed 12 grammes per cell and 500 grames per battery. Not more than ten lithium batteries should be contained in any piece of equipment.

Nickel Alkaline Batteries
The main damage to which accumulators of the alkaline type are liable is corrosion.

Nickel Cadmium Batteries
Rechargeable type for domestic/commercial appliance use. Usually shipped in cardboard cartons in stand up trays. Susceptible to damage by contact with water as rust can develop on the base of the individual batteries where contact to the cardboard separation layers is placed. Water contact to the positive top section can cause pitting. Usually rust contamination to the negative or indeed positive extremes can render the individual batteries unusable.

Reference is made to the relevant IMO regulations on hazardous cargo.

Full information on this product is in the process of completion.