A lithium battery explosion occurs during shipping once every 10 days, shares Rodger Mort, President of PACT LLC, citing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data. “The FAA reports that as of January 22, 2020, 268 incidents involving lithium batteries have occurred on planes since 2006 – including a record 48 in 2018,” he told MD+DI.
“Medical devices face the same thermal runaway risks as any battery-powered device – most worrisomely, impacted or damaged batteries can go into thermal runaway (TR) and create fires during transit,” he added.
PACT recently was granted a U.S. patent for its Thermo Shield, a paper-based, fire-resistant shipping wrap. Medical device manufacturers have traditionally mitigated such risks before by using essentially “the same conventional solutions that other battery-powered devices have. These methods include traditional thermal insulation, reinforced heat dissipation, and fast discharge adjacent cells to lower the overall state of charge.”
PACT’s solution, however, offers what Mort calls a “step up from competitors.” Thermo Shield is “a paper-based, 100% recyclable technology that actively and automatically cools the internal environment of a corrugated container, prevents damage to the outside shipping container, suppresses fumes or gasses from escaping, and limits external oxygen supply,” he said. It “comprises a lightweight pleated material with a non-toxic moisture vapor application that ensures the safety of lithium-ion products in transport. The new solution can suppress thermal runaway and propagation at temperatures up to 800°C, and restrict the temperature outside the wrap itself to 80°C. It is the only paper-based wrap solution that exceeds the proposed SAE G27 lithium battery packaging performance standards for safety in shipping via air, land, and sea.” Thermo Shield can be tailor fit to an item’s specific size and shape, he added.
PACT will be exhibiting at the upcoming Battery Show in Novi, MI, Sept 14-16 at Booth 1452.
In addition to being recyclable, Thermo Shield offers other sustainability and efficiency gains. “It can lighten the overall transport load, lowering carbon emissions as well as shipping costs,” said Mort. “Thermo Shield can wrap the device without the need to remove the battery for separate shipping. This is significant because it saves additional labor and cost.” Its use may also eliminate “the need for vermiculite and packing in steel drums, a cumbersome industry standard for years,” particularly for battery recycling purposes, he said.
Thermo Shield cannot be sterilized along with medical devices, “but since medical devices would generally be contained in a primary package (such as a thermoformed blister) that wouldn’t preclude its use in this sector,” Mort said.