Starting the new year off with a bang, the Wall Street Journal reported this morning that the Transportation Safety Administration has implemented new policies regarding what battery types can be brought on airplanes. The new rule speaks to the Lithium batteries we’ve all come to know and love that charges everything from our cell phones to watches, cameras and laptops. That’s right, your Li-ion batteries are now a restricted item. What are the rules?

Well, it turns out you can have one in your device, so your camera, laptop, cell phone, and other such equipment is safe. You can also carry two spares, provided each is stored in its own sealed plastic bag or the original packaging. Loose batteries, whether in carry-on or checked baggage, are no longer permitted. Lithium content is also restricted now to less than 25 grams. For now, it’s safe to say that virtually all cell phone, laptop, camera, and watch batteries fall well under the limit, including standard AA and AAA batteries. Whether this is per battery or a total of all batteries is somewhat unclear, but from what I have been able to gather, the aggregate total is in reference to the total Lithium content per battery. This is not a definitive piece of information but is the best I can determine from the travel sites (referenced at the end of this post) and other resources.

For those that are curious, I have been able to determine that Lithium content is based on a factor of 0.3 per cell multiplied by the rated capacity in ampere hours. If you look at the back of your batteries, it will tell you certain key information that can be used to determine your total Lithium content. For example, on my Canon XT, the back panel shows that it has a rating of 7.4 volts, with 720 Milliamp Hours. It’s the mAh that we need to use for determining how much Lithium we have. So, if I take the rating of 720 mAh and convert that to regular Ampere Hours (remember your metric system?) I get a value of 0.72 (720/1000). Now, I would use that 0.72 and multiply it by 0.3 to get my total lithium content. So, the XT/XTi batteries have about 0.21 grams of Lithium. Here’s a chart of common Canon cameras, their battery models, and the total Lithium content:

Camera Model

Battery Model mAh value Ah value Total Lithium content
Rebel XT (350d) NB-2LH 720 0.72 0.216 grams
Rebel XTi NB-2LH 720 0.72 0.216 grams
20D BP-511A 1390 1.39 0.417 grams
30D BP-511A 1390 1.39 0.417 grams
40D BP-511A 1390 1.39 0.417 grams
5D BP-511A 1390 1.39 0.417 grams
1D Mark II NP-E3 1650 1.65 0.495 grams
1D Mark III LP-E4 2300 2.3 0.69 grams
1Ds Mark III LP-E4 2300 2.3 0.69 grams

It should be noted here that the 1D Mark II series of the EOS family did not appear to be a Lithium battery, rather a Nicad battery, so it should be exempt from the new restriction. Regardless, at most, any EOS battery will yield considerably less than 1 gram, so with a total of 3 (one in the body and 2 spares), you are just a hair over 2 grams of Lithium (2.1 to be exact). When coupled with your laptop Lithium content, and cellular phone content, you should still be well within the parameters. As for other devices, I just checked my cell phone and laptop. The former (a Motorola v325i), and that has 880 mAh, so comes in at 0.264 grams ( 0.88×0.3). The laptop comes in a little closer as my Macbook Pro (15”) has an Li-ion battery that comes in at 60 Wh (no milliWatt hours here…), so the yield there is 18 grams of Lithium. I’d read elsewhere that the 17” MBP has a Wh capacity of 68 (or 20.4 grams of Lithium).

What it basically comes down to, is that you now must put your spare batteries in a plastic baggie, and can only tote those in your carry-on. (You cannot transport them in checked luggage.) Here’s my theoretical total Lithium content if I travelled with everything and the maximum number of spares:

Camera: 0.63 grams (0.21×3)

Cell phone: 0.78 grams (0.26×3)

Laptop: 54 grams (18×3)

For a grand total of 55.41

As a means of reference, here’s the links I visited in compiling this post:

Wall Street Journal Article

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119911051123859361.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Mac Owner’s Blog (for MBP 17” numbers):

http://stevenfettig.com/mythoughts/archives/000728.php

Safe Travel (note the <dot> GOV distinction)

http://safetravel.dot.gov/whats_new_batteries.html

Calculating Lithium Content

http://www.rosebatteries.com/pdfs/DOTshipping.pdf

 

 

When I get home this afternoon, I will set this up as a dedicated page so it won’t be archived and add it to the “blogroll” links on the side panel for easy reference. Happy Wednesday all, and go buy some baggies!

 

ETA: The dedicated page is now up and can be found here: Battery Lithium Content

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