Lithium Batteries

Lithium Battery Safety


   Lithium batteries in NPS equipment offers higher energy density, higher power density, larger surge currents, longer life, and lower costs when compared to other solid state energy storage sources.  But exceeding specification limits for temperature, voltage, current, or any number of charging parameters can result in thermal runaway, which is basically the battery overheating, likely rupturing, possibly exploding, and releasing hot toxic fumes.  Because of these risks, OPNAV has directed that lithium batteries shall be considered hazardous at all times and directed NAVSEA as the responsible agent for the Navy Lithium Battery Safety Program (OPNAV 5100.23 series).  NPS executes the Navy Lithium Battery Safety Program as directed by NAVSEAINST 9310.1C, and detailed in the Lithium Battery Technical Manual (TECHMAN) S9310-AQ-SAF-010 Rev 3-2020 to ensure a robust and transparent risk management of lithium battery hazards in the environment intended by NPS or the user.  

   The Navy Lithium Battery Safety Program requires acquisition review and data recording.   Acquisition of any lithium battery phones, notebooks, laptops, powerbanks, cordless tools, sensors, lab equipment, cordless products, or loose batteries must be reported and recorded.  For KFS this review can be most efficiently captured by selecting "Lithium Battery" under the Commodity Code in any line item on the request.  If acquired by other means, simply contact the Lithium Battery Coordinator (button below).

   For operations, all lithium battery systems must be tested and formally authorized for use by NAVSEA.  However there are healthy exceptions that cover many common applications such as consumer safety tested phones and laptops (See link to NPS Lithium Battery Gouge for Buyers)

   The Navy’s Lithium Battery Safety Program (LBSP) testing and authorization process is structured around four steps:

  1. Submission of a Authorization Request Letter (ARL) and a Safety Data Package by the NPS President to NAVSEA/NSWC for the detailing the battery system and mission environment.
  2. Testing of the battery by LBSP approved personnel.
  3. Review of the data package and test results by the LBSP’s designated technical agents.
  4. Approval: formal letter of recommendation by NAVSEA of the proposed battery’s use and in the proposed environment.

   NPS has submitted dozens of ARLs and holds Authorization letters for many systems.  If you plan to acquire, manage, or operate a lithium battery system, it is recommended to coordinate resources with the lithium battery safety coordinator who can assist with NPS corporate knowledge.

   For example on 11 August 2014, “Use of lithium ion batteries limited to less than 300 watt-hours during research efforts (unmanned aerial systems (UAS), unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV), and robotics at the NPS and research operations under their supervision conducted at controlled airspace at shore facilities” was granted by the Naval Ordnance Safety and Security Activity (NOSSA). 

   Part of this approval was consideration of elements of the President’s requesting letter, which cited that participating researches will receive training on the NPS Rechargeable Lithium Battery SOP and will be accountable for procedures in that document as well as restrictions delineated in the requested clearance documents.


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