United bans lithium ion batteries

United AirlinesUnited Airlines said it will stop carrying cargo of lithium ion (li-ion) batteries, following tests.

United is the second US airline to announce it would cease shipping quantities of li-ion – last month Delta made a similar decision.

The tests were carried out by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to the BBC. The FAA filled a container with 5,000 batteries and a small heater. The heat ignited fires in other batteries with temperatures soaring to 600 degrees Celsius. Then an explosion blew open the container door.

A second test had a similar effect.

Li-ion batteries are known to be very volatile. Some years ago, Mike Magee’s INQUIRER carried dramatic pictures of a laptop exploding at a Japanese conference, pictures which hit news outlets worldwide.

Other airlines are expected to follow United and Delta’s move.