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PRBA proposes Li-ion testing changes

The Portable Rechargeable Battery Association wants the United Nations to eliminate disparities between testing "small" and large format batteries and include new definitions that clarify when battery components -- cells, batteries, battery modules, and battery assembles -- are subject to UN testing requirements.

The PRBA said that differentiating between battery components is critical to ensuring the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria remain current with industry practices and terminology. Continued reliance on an outdated testing scheme could stifle development of a new generation of environmentally-friendly products, the organization warned.

"The rechargeable lithium-ion battery is the unsung hero of the consumer electronics revolution and powers the ubiquitous necessities of modern life--cell phones, notebook computers, digital cameras, MP3 players, portable DVDs, PDAs and power tools," said PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner. "Now the focus has expanded to larger lithium-ion batteries and their equally dramatic potential. These large-format batteries provide cutting-edge solutions to the most vexing problems of our time such as global warming and the addiction to carbon-based fuels."

The UN Subcommittee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods last updated its tests for lithium batteries in 2000, when its primary focus was on small lithium cells and batteries. The existing set of tests in the UN Manual pose significant technical and financial challenges for large-format battery manufacturers, PRBA said in its filing with the UN.

PRBA will formally introduce its recommendations for large-format lithium-ion batteries at a July meeting of the UN Subcommittee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods in Geneva, Switzerland. Copies of PRBA's proposal can be downloaded at http://www.prba.org/Laws_and_Regulations/Default.ashx (follow link to "International").

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