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Primary Lithium Battery Safety and Handling Guidelines

The information contained in this document is for reference only. It should not be used in place of appropriate Federal, State, or local regulations or other legal requirements. Greatbatch and/or POWER STABILITY Solutions (POWER STABILITY) are not responsible for updating the contents of this document or for any incident that occurs due to misuse or abuse of lithium cells and/or batteries.


POWER STABILITY Solutions Inc., a subsidiary of Greatbatch Ltd., manufactures a wide variety of lithium batteries in various sizes, temperature ranges, and rate capabilities. As a tested expert in design, manufacturing, assembly, and integration, we are synonymous with reliability and safety. For decades, the world’s top research institutions, industry leading companies, and government agencies have chosen POWER STABILITY Solutions Inc. for the best in non-rechargeable and rechargeable power assurance. We are standard in critical applications such as oil and gas services, military communications, medical devices, oceanographic monitoring and more, ensuring power in places where others fall short.

The success of these systems is partially due to the fact that they contain more energy per unit weight than conventional batteries. However, the same properties which result in a high energy density also contribute to potential hazards if the energy is released at a fast, uncontrolled rate. With proper use and handling, POWER STABILITY cells and batteries have demonstrated an excellent safety record. The cells and batteries manufactured by POWER STABILITY are used safely and successfully in many applications where safety and reliability are of the utmost importance.

Due to the recognition of hazards associated with high energy density systems, safety has been incorporated into the design and manufacture of all POWER STABILITY primary lithium cells and batteries. While we have designed our cells and batteries to be tolerant of adverse conditions, these very active chemical systems have limitations. Certain hazards are associated with exposure to heat and its subsequent effects on sealed cells. These hazards include the potential for cell venting, explosion, and/or fires. The initial source of heat can be external (welding, soldering, etc.) or internal such as heating caused by short circuiting, excessive running currents for prolonged periods of time, forced over-discharge, charging, or excessive mechanical abuse.

Specifically, mechanical abuse in the form of excessive shock or vibration can result in case deformation, crushing, and damage to the electrode materials.

Most primary lithium cells have a warning printed on the label that cautions against the following conditions:



Forced over-discharge

Excessive heat or incineration

Crush, puncture, or disassembly

Not guarding against these conditions may result in a hot cell or a battery pack that could vent or explode. With POWER STABILITY cells, the ensuing hazards associated with a hot cell typically will not occur the instant the cell is abused. Rather, the cell will heat up over a period of time. This can take place in a matter of seconds or hours. Subsequently, the end result has the potential to result in a cell vent or explosion once the critical temperature is reached. All POWER STABILITY primary cells and batteries are labeled with their maximum operating temperature, indicated in degrees Celsius. This temperature should not be exceeded.

Safe Handling Guidelines

The guidelines identified in this document should be incorporated into all areas of the facility as Best Management Practices and/or Safe Work Practices.

The intent of this section is to provide primary lithium cell and battery users with guidelines necessary for safe handling of cells and batteries under normal assembly and use conditions. This document will address three principle areas:

1. Receiving, inspection, and storage of cells and batteries

2. Handling during product assembly

3. Packaging for shipment

Receiving, Inspection, and Storage

In general, the conditions that cause damage to cells and batteries and jeopardize the safety of personnel are summarized on the label of each cell. These conditions include:

Short circuit


Forced over-discharge

Excessive heating or incineration

Crush, puncture, or disassembly

Rough handling or excessive shock and vibration

The most frequent form of handling abuse during Receiving Inspection and Storage is inadvertent short circuiting. Control measures to protect against this form of abuse should be implemented throughout the workplace. It is POWER STABILITY’s experience that inadvertent short circuits during handling are the largest single cause of field failures. More specifically, accidental short circuiting is a common occurrence in a receiving inspection environment due to frequent handling.

All POWER STABILITY high-rate cells are internally protected against the hazards associated with short circuits. This is accomplished by incorporating a fast-acting use under the terminal cap. While the fused cells are less likely to heat, vent, or explode under a direct short circuit condition, they will be rendered non-functional. Steps should be taken throughout the receiving and inspection processes to avoid short circuiting cells and batteries.

Issues associated with short circuiting, as well as other hazardous conditions, can be significantly reduced by observing the following guidelines:

Cover all conductive work surfaces with an insulating material

Work areas should be free of sharp objects that could puncture the insulating material

Never disassemble a cell or battery pack or attempt to replace a blown fuse

Conductive materials (jewelry, etc.) should not be worn by personnel handling cells and batteries

Cells should be stored in their original packaging or by similar means

Cells should be moved in trays using pushcarts to reduce the probability of dropping. Dropped cells or batteries should be treated as a potential Hot Cell

All inspection tools should be non-conductive, or covered with a non-conductive material

Cells should be inspected for physical damage

Open-circuit-voltage (OCV) should be checked. The nominal OCV for each cell is printed on the label

After a cell has been inspected, it should be returned to its storage container

If leads or tabs need to be trimmed, cut only one at a time

Cell Storage

Storage of hazardous materials is generally regulated by Federal, State, and local regulations. These regulations will vary by region and it is up to each user to determine the appropriate regulations to comply with. Along with regulatory guidance, the following guidelines should be followed:

Cells should be stored in their original containers or equivalent

Cells should be stored in a dry, well ventilated area. Ideally, cells will be stored in a temperature controlled environment at 23°C or below.

Cells should be segregated from other combustible or flammable materials

Fresh cells should be isolated from depleted or used cells

Appropriate fire extinguishing means should be available

Storage areas should be equipped with sprinklers

Appropriate personal protective equipment should be available

Exercise caution when stacking boxes to prevent crushing of cells in lower boxes


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