lithium shipping hazmat fees

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Alan B   100 GW

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lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by Alan B » Dec 05 2010 6:15am

I ordered some Headway cells from a US vendor recently. A $25 fee for hazmat was added to the UPS charges. This is quite expensive for a small shipment (8 cells). These are "safe" chemistry lithiums. There was no notice or warning that this fee was going to be charged. Shipping is billed after the order, so it is not visible when the order is being placed.

Edit: This was a GROUND shipment, so air freight risks are not present.

Not happy :evil:
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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by BMI » Dec 05 2010 6:33am

This extra charge is only applicable to any lithium ion batteries shipped/sold in the USA. The charge does not apply to any customers outside of the USA (at the present time). The charge may rise further once the IATA lithium battery shipping regulations are reviewed. This has come about due to several fires aboard air freight aircraft (particularly UPS) and in particular the recent lithium battery fire which resulted in the crash and death of both pilots in Dubai a couple of months ago.
You can blame the irresponsible companies and/or individuals who have shipped hazardous lithium polymer/lithium cobalt oxide batteries for the extra charges you have to pay.

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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by Lessss » Dec 05 2010 7:28am

No the blame should go to the #$% UPS employees who abused the packages to the point the batteries inside were damaged.
I've heard horror stories about how they take pleasure in throwing packages around labeled fragile, from former employees.
Give me nuclear batteries I say!! Ripped off by Joshua Goldberg to the tune of almost $900 re headway groupbuy for batteries, no $ no batteries
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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by mdd0127 » Dec 05 2010 12:10pm

You said a mouthful there.

With my shipping damaged lipo situation, the fault was half the senders because they didn't package it correctly. The delivery guys just finished them off.

Because almost every piece of equipment I have ordered for my build has come in damaged from shipping, I'm running months behind. I guess I'm better at fixing inverters, welders, cnc mills, grinders, computers, and lithium battery packs now so it's not a total loss.

I kind of want to start a website where people can post their shipping nightmare stories, then the website groups them by carrier and area. It would be pretty easy to figure out which drivers respect their jobs. I have personally seen drivers from all companies literally kicking boxes labeled fragile across the ground from the truck to the door. One idiot was delivering a 3'x6' MIRROR to a GLASS SHOP and he slid it off the back of the truck onto the ground like it was scrap plywood, then acted all surprised when it shattered. Fired! I used to ignore it but after recent experiences, don't think I will anymore. My gut instinct would be to knock them out and throw their keys in the snow but I'll probably just start reporting them to their supervisors instead. :wink:

With jobs and work being so tough to come across these days, there really is no need for employees that don't respect their jobs or their customers. If less people would tolerate people with no respect, the world would be a much better place. These days, if you don't want your job, someone else NEEDS it.

So, if you're tired of extra fees, start reporting companies that ship batteries in improper packaging, and start reporting people that aren't doing their jobs.

I'll see if I can get the email addresses of the shipping companies CEO's so we have some decent contact information for complaints. CEO's HATE getting complaints and might actually do something!



On the plane crash thing, seems like it would need to be a lot of lithium to burn up a plane like that.
Hmmm.... I wonder where that shipment was coming from???
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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by John in CR » Dec 05 2010 12:21pm

This is only going to get worse. How comfortable would you be on a plane knowing there was a chinese made lithium pack in the cargo? Regardless of the chemistry it's a lot of stored energy and a short can start a fire.

Why is it not possible for a lithium chemistry to be stable at 0v for shipping, or at least 0v before activating it for the initial charge? Come on chemistry/material scientists, combine the advantages of nicad and lithium (or something new) that comes in a cell with an operating range of 6v down to 5v per cells that can ship or store at 0v. :mrgreen:

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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by Jeremy Harris » Dec 05 2010 12:44pm

I did a stack of work on certifying lithium cells for carriage in military aircraft back in the early nineties. We started out with all sorts of horror stories about lithium fires, had untold restrictions placed on carriage quantities that limited our airborne maritime defence capability (high power active search sonobuoys use lithium primary cells ) and people had dived off the deep end at looking at ways to build graphite extinguishing systems into aircraft.

In fact the risks were no where near as high as the scaremongers made out. People love to stir the shit when it comes to safety, but when we did a proper safety analysis and examined all the critical failure modes it turned out that lithium wasn't any more hazardous than the aircraft's primary wet NiCd battery.

All that's needed is proper packaging and labelling, together with sensible handling precautions (i.e. treating the packages as fragile). There are many, far, far more hazardous cargos carried every day in much larger volumes than a few boxes of LiPos. Even the aircraft fuel system represents an absolutely massive energy store with far greater potential risk than a few boxes of LiPos.

As usual, folk get wound around the bloody axle of health and safety without looking at the whole picture and assessing relative risk properly. It's a bit like the way that the nuclear industry gets people going - compare the number of deaths and injuries from nuclear power (including open cast uranium extraction) with that from coal or oil. Last time I looked coal was a terrifyingly dangerous and environmentally damaging fuel than any other, with oil coming a close second.

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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by docnjoj » Dec 05 2010 1:04pm

I don't know much about Lithium batteries but since Jeremy mentioned it, nuclear power should be taken much more seriously as a renewable power source. I spent a year as an Health and Safety officer for such a plant in the late 1980's and the seriousness of precautions and excellence of the staff was something I will never forget. These folks really took their jobs seriously and respectfully. This was 1986 and a number of people volunteered to go over to help the Russians during the Chernobyl disaster. An amazing bunch of workers! Not sorry at all about being OT as we need to think about risk management rather than just "jerk our knees"!
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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by Harold in CR » Dec 05 2010 1:16pm

An example. When we had the Manufacturing Business, we shipped 14Ga Stainless Steel 6" Dia. Sand Scoops we made. Had more than 1 delivered CRUSHED nearly flat, and they STILL had the nerve to deliver them. UPS was screwed once the Damn UNION got in there. NO ONE is responsible. :x :x Their exorbitant shipping rates helped put us out of business.

I always said, if someone would start up a CARING delivery system, the others would close down. Problem is, same mentality prevails throughout the industry.
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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by Andje » Dec 05 2010 1:21pm

they say you'd need only 400-600 new reactors built to power all of North America.
people are going to wish they hadn't burned all the gas and coal for lighting when there are centralized nuclear power plants for home power but batteries are still unable to keep up with the energy density of carbon fuels. planes? nope. air shipping? nope. O, we found fusion and saved ourselves, but there's no more gas and look at that... ev's don't have the range and we are back to doing everything with trains and boats and blimps.

Nuclear naysayers point at the waste and then protest establishing a site to store it appropriately. They point at safety concerns both of security and catastrophe, but they fail to compare these fears in a quantifiable manner that can be used for a cost/benefit style analysis; instead they insist on vague melodramatic hypothetical worst case scenarios and point to the only two disasters ever as if that is the norm, and they pretend that the potential for problems negates the definable benefits entirely.

IMHO the public and legislative debate on nuclear power is no longer based on science. It has become a faith-based matter; you either believe in nuclear power or you believe against nuclear power. Science and evidence and established examples all show that it is safe and an excellent trade off compared to CO2 emissions, and this is the side that is still willing to admit that things could go wrong. The people against nuclear power will never admit/accept a scenario where things could go right, and so it has moved from the realm of debate to faith imho.

edit* wow this has nothing to do with this topic... sry, i got caught up in jeremy's post. Im in Canada, and shipping lipo here is proving difficult as well! I expect to pay huge fees, and i just wan them to figure out what they are going to charge/regulate and move on. It's like they aren't screwing with an entire industry with this ban or something.
Also, in terms of starting a caring delivery service, picture one word and then dream;

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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by snowranger » Dec 05 2010 1:34pm

Alan B wrote:I ordered some Headway cells from Washington recently. A $25 fee for hazmat was added to the UPS charges. This is quite expensive for a small shipment (8 cells). These are "safe" chemistry lithiums. There was no notice or warning that this fee was going to be charged. Shipping is billed after the order, so it is not visible when the order is being placed.

Not happy :evil:
Which retailer is this? I want to make sure to avoid them because they don't disclose all charges up front.
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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by Samba » Dec 05 2010 1:35pm

Who gets the hazmat fee? Is it the same fee for 4 cells vs 40? 4 small cells vs 4 huge cells? 4 cells in a battery pack vs 4 loose cells?

I haven't seen it when shipping consumer electronics that include lithuim batteries - like mp3 players and laptops.

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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by Alan B » Dec 05 2010 3:22pm

Wow. I touched a few nerves here.

UPS gets the hazmat fee.

Years ago I bought smokeless powder over the internet. In case you don't know, smokeless powder is not explosive, but is flammable. It is very stable and pretty hard to get started, but it burns fairly quickly and energetically. It will not create explosive pressures, shock waves, etc unless contained.

Anyway, they put a ton of restrictions on it, and hazmat fees, and limits as to how much could be shipped in one box. UPS gets rich on all the fees. They charge $25 (used to be $4) per package, and I think all they do is keep some paperwork on it, and perhaps put a sticker on the box. It is still up to the shipper to package it properly.

So how does this work? The government requires the procedures and paperwork, and UPS gets to charge whatever it wants for this? There is no reasonable limit to the fees??

Does the paperwork actually increase safety?

I don't want to disclose the vendor, I think they are a good vendor responding to a change in the regulations. They are not the problem, and I expect they will disclose it in the future. They should have warned me, yes. This fee was over $3 per headway cell on my small order. It is my fourth shipment, so I was not expecting it and did not see it on the website during my ordering process. I can't say if it is buried in fine print somewhere. I'm pretty certain it was not on the earlier bills for shipping. I just verified the last statement, for two shipments, had no hazmat fees.

It is a risk with any vendor that either has your credit card number, or is billing you for shipping. If the payment includes shipping and is up front with PayPal then they don't have an easy way to get more funds from you - they don't have access to your credit card. They must request any additional funds from you.

With all the safety training we do at work, and the work on safety culture, I would think some investment should be made in the training and motivation of the shipping workers. I have observed the local FedEx delivery person throwing a small package onto my second story front porch from the bottom of the stairs, and I have heard the UPS driver reorganizing his truck - it sounded like he was free-throwing packages around inside. There is a fundamental problem in the attitudes and procedures of the package transportation industry.

And while I'm complaining, the UPS and Post Office insurance isn't worth much. I made a couple of claims and they just refused them and blamed me for not packing well enough even though the boxes were clearly handling damaged. Their requirements are not very reasonable - they essentially say you have to pack well enough so they can throw the stuff, so they don't care when it breaks anyway.

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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by The Mighty Volt » Dec 05 2010 5:00pm

BMI wrote:This extra charge is only applicable to any lithium ion batteries shipped/sold in the USA. The charge does not apply to any customers outside of the USA (at the present time). The charge may rise further once the IATA lithium battery shipping regulations are reviewed. This has come about due to several fires aboard air freight aircraft (particularly UPS) and in particular the recent lithium battery fire which resulted in the crash and death of both pilots in Dubai a couple of months ago.
You can blame the irresponsible companies and/or individuals who have shipped hazardous lithium polymer/lithium cobalt oxide batteries for the extra charges you have to pay.
UPS- lithium battery fire - 2008 Dec 12.bmp
A couple of months ago I got a UPS notification to say that my LiFePo4 had been destroyed in Dubai...I then got a notification from my supplier that an attempt to re-send batteries had been blocked and that they would have to refund me my cash.

I will try to find the notification I got from UPS and post it here.

I sincerely hope my few A123 cells didn't cause some sort of accident.

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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by Hillhater » Dec 05 2010 6:23pm

BMI wrote:...... in particular the recent lithium battery fire which resulted in the crash and death of both pilots in Dubai a couple of months ago....
Thats a very pointed statement ! ....do you have any proof or references ??
An "uncontrollable" fire broke out in the cockpit of the ill-fated United Parcel Services (UPS) plane while it was still in Bahraini airspace, a preliminary report issued by the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) about Friday's air crash has revealed.
http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/emerg ... i-1.677830

Also...
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has claimed responsibility for last week's parcel bomb plot, said on Friday that it had planted a bomb on the UPS plane that crashed after taking off from Dubai airport on September 3.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/wo ... z17HeTjqNP
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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by katou » Dec 05 2010 8:45pm

In Canada, all lithium batteries must be shipped ground and be identified as such. There are no other restrictions on them.

I called Canada post and got referred to their special regulatory group, and they explained the ground shipping restrictions.

My point is that I went to the source (for Canada) and got the info straight from the horse.

Call them yourself if you want, it's not a big deal to them. I checked this out before I sent batteries to Ireland, Texas, Boston and Florida.

No problems.

Katou

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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by Andje » Dec 05 2010 9:01pm

My canadian problems have more to do with vendor policy and confusion then with our postal service.
The lipo available through canadian companies is 2 to 3 times the cost of HK lipo for instance (this is what I have found, I would be happier then you for you to show me wrong :)), and HK simply wont ship here by ground from the us warehouse, so you're left with getting them here from China. EMS won't ship more then 3500 ah amounts according to the automated ordering system, their online help and their customer service email.

Katou, if you have an actual source for lipo in Canada that is comparable to HK in prices (obviously with the $ conversion although we are almost at parity) I would be overjoyed.
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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by John in CR » Dec 06 2010 5:32am

Alan B,

Wait a second. Your vendor tacked on a $3/cell hazmat fee and charged your card for it without any notice or warning? It behooves you to contact them and get the details, as well as let us know who the vendor is that is tacking an extra 10% or so onto the shipping cost without notice and calling it a hazmat fee.

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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by Jeremy Harris » Dec 06 2010 6:25am

BMI wrote:This extra charge is only applicable to any lithium ion batteries shipped/sold in the USA. The charge does not apply to any customers outside of the USA (at the present time). The charge may rise further once the IATA lithium battery shipping regulations are reviewed. This has come about due to several fires aboard air freight aircraft (particularly UPS) and in particular the recent lithium battery fire which resulted in the crash and death of both pilots in Dubai a couple of months ago.
You can blame the irresponsible companies and/or individuals who have shipped hazardous lithium polymer/lithium cobalt oxide batteries for the extra charges you have to pay.
UPS- lithium battery fire - 2008 Dec 12.bmp
Hmmm............

First off, the investigation into the CAUSE of the Sept 3rd Dubai accident to N571UP isn't yet known, so we cannot say how or why the fire started and speculation simply hampers getting at the true cause. It may well be that the fire had nothing at all to do with the batteries being carried, the fire could have started from a fault with the aircraft or with any of the other cargo being carried, some of which may have been far more hazardous than lithium batteries. There have, for example, been cargo fires caused by pyrotechnics, oxygen candles, fireworks etc in the past. Although it has been reported that there was a shipment of lithium batteries on board, it's wrong to assume that these are the cause until we have some evidence from the investigators, which is likely to take a fair time, at least 6 months and maybe 12 before we see the final report and recommendations.

Secondly, the photo you've very misleadingly posted is of the accident to N748UP at Philadelphia on Feb 7th 2006. This wasn't a lithium-induced fire, so you're scaremongering by posting it. The official NTSB report states: The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was an in-flight cargo fire that initiated from an unknown source, which was most likely located within cargo container 12, 13, or 14. Contributing to the loss of the aircraft were the inadequate certification test requirements for smoke and fire detection systems and the lack of an on-board fire suppression system.

I've been associated with aircraft accident investigations and the one thing I've learned over the years is that the true cause often turns out to be something completely different to that speculated about by an ill-informed press. We may know sometime in 2011 what the cause of the Dubai UPS fire was, so let's wait until then before choosing to blame people or make advertising copy from a nasty accident, eh?

It's also worth noting that ALL lithium chemistry batteries present a substantial fire hazard, including LiFePO4. Lithium metal burns fiercely and is very difficult to extinguish with conventional fire extinguisher systems. We had to install graphite powder extinguishers to kill lithium fires and they, in turn, pose their own hazards when used on aircraft (they can actually cause electrical fires as a side effect, plus the graphite causes severe corrosion to aluminium alloys). Also, UPS (and other freight companies) have a fairly poor record when it comes to cargo handling, HAZMAT container segregation and fire suppressant systems, as the above quote from the NTSB mentions.

If packages are properly packed, with appropriate measures taken to avoid damage and maintain safe segregation distances, then there's no reason they can't be carried. Have a think about how many laptops, mobile phones etc are sitting in the lockers on pretty much any passenger flight, not to mention the lithium power hand-held units used to download data the the FMS by the crew.

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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by BMI » Dec 06 2010 8:05am

Jeremy Harris wrote:
It's also worth noting that ALL lithium chemistry batteries present a substantial fire hazard, including LiFePO4.

Jeremy
Absolutely disagree with you here. Totally incorrect.

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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by Jeremy Harris » Dec 06 2010 8:15am

Prove it.

Show me evidence that the lithium in a LiFePO4 cell isn't every bit as as flammable as the lithium in any other cell.

There's nothing magic about LiFePO4 that suddenly makes the lithium in the cell any less flammable, I'm afraid. The physical properties of lithium don't magically change because of a change in cell coatings.

The only safety advantages that LiFePO4 has over other forms of lithium cell are to do with its relative insensitivity to exploding when mistreated - they burn just as well as any other lithium containing product. The big problem with burning lithium is that it's hard to extinguish, so the answer (for any lithium cell chemistry) is to package it in a way that minimises the risk of it being exposed to fire.

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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by BMI » Dec 06 2010 8:16am

Jeremy Harris wrote:
First off, the investigation into the CAUSE of the Sept 3rd Dubai accident to N571UP isn't yet known, so we cannot say how or why the fire started and speculation simply hampers getting at the true cause. It may well be that the fire had nothing at all to do with the batteries being carried, the fire could have started from a fault with the aircraft or with any of the other cargo being carried, some of which may have been far more hazardous than lithium batteries. There have, for example, been cargo fires caused by pyrotechnics, oxygen candles, fireworks etc in the past. Although it has been reported that there was a shipment of lithium batteries on board, it's wrong to assume that these are the cause until we have some evidence from the investigators, which is likely to take a fair time, at least 6 months and maybe 12 before we see the final report and recommendations.
The aircraft was carrying a large quantity of lithium batteries. It was reported that the smoke was so thick and dense the pilots could not see outside before the plane crashed. I am willing to bet that the cause of the fire was lithium batteries catching alight. Jeremy how much are you willing to bet that the fire was caused by some other reason?

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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by BMI » Dec 06 2010 8:22am

Jeremy Harris wrote:Prove it.

Show me evidence that the lithium in a LiFePO4 cell isn't every bit as as flammable as the lithium in any other cell.

Jeremy
I am only speaking about LiFeTech LiFePO4 batteries. LiFeTech batteries will absolutely not catch on fire unless you actually put them into an existing fire. I cannot speak for poor quality Chinese LiFePO4 battery manufacturers who more than likely put all sorts of unsafe additives in their batteries.

I can absolutely prove it. How much are you willing to bet on it?

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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by Jeremy Harris » Dec 06 2010 8:28am

Actually, the aircraft was carrying a large shipment of electronic goods, which contained lithium batteries. We don't know what the cell chemistry was, we don't know the quantity of lithium involved and we don't know the exact nature of the goods. Neither do we know what other HAZMAT goods were being carried, but I'd be surprised if there wasn't a fairly long list of other HAZMAT stuff on the manifest. Cargo aircraft routinely carry large quantities of HAZMATs, from chemicals through various types of stored energy products to pathogens.

I'm not going to speculate as to cause, for the simple reason that I am not privy to the evidence that the two investigating teams are still sifting through. It could be any number of things, as we have no idea what else was in that cargo.

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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by Jeremy Harris » Dec 06 2010 8:36am

BMI wrote:I am only speaking about LiFeTech LiFePO4 batteries. LiFeTech batteries will absolutely not catch on fire unless you actually put them into an existing fire. I cannot speak for poor quality Chinese LiFePO4 battery manufacturers who more than likely put all sorts of unsafe additives in their batteries.

I can absolutely prove it. How much are you willing to bet on it?
There's nothing magical about the lithium in your cells that makes it non-flammable. The issue here is one of fire hazard, not charging or mechanical safety.

If there is a source of ignition in a cargo hold, from any cause (electrical fault, some other cargo over-heating, chemical reaction, whatever) the lithium in your cells will burn just as readily as the lithium in any other flavour of cells.

Your mistaking the relatively low risk of explosion and fire that all LiFePO4 cells present when being charged and handled with flammability - the two are very different. HAZMAT mainly deals with flammability, explosiveness and toxicity and the ease, or otherwise, of suppressant systems to deal with it.

Your cells aren't any different from any other energy storage device in terms of being able to initiate a fire, either. If mis-packaged or badly installed in equipment such that something can short then the result may a source of ignition, irrespective of the battery chemistry.

There's already too much bullshit being spouted about safety, let's not add to it by pretending that any energy storage device is inherently safe, please.

Jeremy
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Re: lithium shipping hazmat fees

Post by BMI » Dec 06 2010 8:50am

Jeremy Harris wrote:
There's nothing magical about the lithium in your cells that makes it non-flammable. The issue here is one of fire hazard, not charging or mechanical safety.

If there is a source of ignition in a cargo hold, from any cause (electrical fault, some other cargo over-heating, chemical reaction, whatever) the lithium in your cells will burn just as readily as the lithium in any other flavour of cells.

Jeremy
You are full of absolute BS Jeremy! Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is?
If you can explain how I can download to this forum for all to see a 5MB file of crash lab testing /and CE testing of LiFeTech batteries I will prove to you how wrong you are.

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