A safety screen for lithium batteries

24 / 09 / 2014

LITHIUM batteries are Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde when it comes to air cargo, writes Roger Hailey, Air Cargo News editor

These high energy units literally power the mobile revolution, residing as they do in most tablets and mobile phones.

Properly declared by the shipper, they are premium cargo.

But lithium batteries, when damaged or badly packaged, have a dangerous side that poses a potential fire risk, hence the IATA move to make this technology freighter-only cargo by 2015.

There have been a number of air cargo incidents around the transport of lithium batteries that have prompted such a regulatory review.

But it appears that help is on hand.

Security screening specialist Rapiscan is now at the testing stage for new software that can help x-ray scanners identify lithium batteries lurking undeclared within an air freight consignment.

The testing regime behind the algorithms that make such screening possible is complex and  time-consuming.  Hence the decision by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority to part fund the Rapiscan research.

Now that this initial phase has been completed successfully, Rapiscan is looking for industry partners to test the technology outside of its Californian laboratories and in the real world

Let’s hope the response from the air cargo community is overwhelming.

As you read this, the industry will be preparing to meet in Budapest for our Freighters and Belly Cargo World Conference in Hungary.

I look forward to hearing the top names in air cargo tackle the important issues facing our business at this critical time.

Keep an eye on our website for coverage of the event.