Regulatory battery requirements on an unregulated market

As a producer . of battery driven products you need to be aware of battery related risks, liability responsibilities, regulatory requirements and applicable standards. Today advanced batteries such as lithium ion batteries are being introduced in traction, industrial and medical markets besides the automotive segment.

The high energy density and flammable electrolyte of these batteries compared to traditional battery technologies imply new safety risks. Present legislation and standards are unable to keep pace with the rate of market acceptance. Hence there are gaps between regulation and the state-of-the-art technology, which product owners need to be aware of and find ways to manage in order to ensure a safe and reliable product.


Regulatory  and standard requirements

Regulatory requirements are mandatory and are a response to e.g. known safety risks and environmental risks for users, handlers, employers and employees. Examples of such regulations are the European EU Battery Directive 2006/66/EC, REACH, RoHS, Product safety directive, UNECE transport regulations, UNECE Vehicle R100 regulations, waste regulations and work regulations.

There are also industry standard guidelines and recommendations, mainly on product safety, test methods and general technical specifications. If not pointed at by regulators and directives, standards are of a more normative and “best practice” character. Standards for batteries are often developed by the industry, including both battery and product (application) manufacturers.

Examples of organizations that publish standards include IEC, UL, ANSI, JIS, IEEE, CEN, Cenelec, ISO and SAE.  Some of them are more applicable in certain markets such as JIS in Japan and UL in USA. IEC and ISO are international standards; IEC cover mostly cell and component requirements, while ISO focus more on system requirements and large scale batteries.


Managing the gaps in standards and regulations

If batteries are not your core business it can be a challenge to stay up-to-date with the multitude of regulations, standards and the differing requirements for different battery chemistries, products and markets. Furthermore, the gaps between available standards and regulations which have arisen for e.g. new use of lithium ion batteries place a burden on the product manufacturers to create their own methods of ensuring safe and reliable products.

Based on battery expertise and experience from integrating batteries in products, existing gaps in regulations and standards can be overcome. A useful approach can be to make relevant comparisons with available standards for other battery technologies and applications, adapting applicable requirements and identifying critical areas without guidance.

Here battery experts with overview of regulations and standards can help you with a structured approach at establishing relevant requirements for your product and advice on managing the gaps. This is essential for a safe, reliable product with the right performance.


Therese Danielsson
PhD, Etteplan Battery Technologies