Safety Standards for sealed batteries for portable use

Two new IEC Standards cover a crucial aspect of secondary batteries: safety

By Morand Fachot

As the range and demands placed by portable electrical and electronic applications expand rapidly, IEC International Standards for portable sealed secondary batteries are being regularly reviewed. Two International Standards that focus on a key aspect of secondary sealed batteries, safety, have been published. 

Tesla Powerwall Tesla Powerwall is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed to store energy at a residential level (Photo: Tesla Motors)

Two Standards for two chemistries to replace a single publication

IEC Subcommittee (SC) 21A: Secondary cells and batteries containing alkaline or other non-acid electrolytes, of IEC Technical Committee (TC) 21: Secondary cells and batteries, has recently published two International Standards: IEC 62133-1:2017Secondary cells and batteries containing alkaline or other non-acid electrolytes - Safety requirements for portable sealed secondary cells, and for batteries made from them, for use in portable applications - Part 1: Nickel systems, and IEC 62133-2:2017, Secondary cells and batteries containing alkaline or other non-acid electrolytes - Safety requirements for portable sealed secondary lithium cells, and for batteries made from them, for use in portable applications - Part 2: Lithium systems. These Standards deal with safety requirements for portable sealed secondary cells and batteries for use in portable applications. 

These two publications replace IEC 62133:2012, which covered both nickel and lithium systems. 

Greatly expanded publications

IEC 62133:2012 was much less comprehensive, in particular as regards lithium systems. Whilst the part covering nickel systems is broadly similar between IEC 62133-1 and the previous Standard, IEC 62133-2, which deals with lithium systems, is much more comprehensive as regards tests as well as normative and informative annexes than its equivalent in the previous edition. This is not surprising as lithium cells and batteries are to be found in a much greater number of devices as before and as some highly-publicized incidents resulting in fires and even explosions have affected a number of portable lithium systems.

With sealed secondary batteries set to equip many more devices in the foreseeable future, it is clear that these two newly-published International Standards will be welcome by the industry and help improve the safety of secondary batteries themselves, the equipment they power and, ultimately, users.

Gallery
nickel batteries IEC 62133-1 deals with safety requirements for nickel batteries
rechargeable lithium battery IEC 62133-2 deals with lithium systems for batteries (Photo: Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 - via Wikimedia Commons)
Tesla Powerwall Tesla Powerwall is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed to store energy at a residential level (Photo: Tesla Motors)
smartphone after battery explosion IEC 62133-2 provides a comprehensive series of tests for lithium systems to avoid risks of fires or explosions that have affected a number of devices in recent years (Photo: AP)