More than 200,000 people descended upon Las Vegas for the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the biggest tech trade show of the year and, historically, a launching pad for the latest innovations in consumer electronics, next-generation vehicles and emerging technologies. From smartphones, laptops and game consoles to electric vehicles, hoverboards and drones – the trade show floor is chock-full of electronics powered by lithium-ion battery systems.

With the global market for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries projected to reach $11.9 billion in annual sales by 2020, this technology has evolved over the past 25 years.  It now packs in more energy and yields longer life cycles, making it an ideal energy source for transforming the way we learn, work, play and travel. In noting trends for this year’s 50th anniversary CES, PC Magazine offered that “also hot will be personal transportation devices, like hoverboards and different variations on the idea of giving people new forms of personal transportation options.”

The benefits of new technologies can come with some risks especially if they are not properly mitigated from the get-go. That’s why it’s critical to acknowledge the safety challenges of an advanced energy system such as lithium-ion batteries.

In an effort to proactively address these challenges and globally support the rapid adoption of personal e-transportation technologies, UL recently announced new and updated standards, establishing a baseline of common expectations for their safe use and shipment. The complete suite of e-transportation standards includes:

  • Updates to UL 2272 reflecting an expanded scope. The initial version of UL 2272 was first published in January 2016 after widespread reports of fires that were traced to lithium-ion batteries used in hoverboards. The danger led to major product recalls and decreased consumer enthusiasm. UL 2272, with which the Consumer Product Safety Commission urged manufacturers to comply, helped enable a safer, second deployment of these products worldwide. The revised scope of UL 2272 now goes beyond hoverboards to cover all types of personal e-mobility devices, including any device intended for a single rider that is not roadworthy, does not have pedals, and is typically stood upon in operation. UL 2272 is now entitled “Electric Systems for Personal e-Mobility Devices.” In addition, this standard achieved bi-national standard accreditation in November and now serves as the safety standard for both the United States and Canada.
  • Updates to UL 2849 addressing new technologies. UL 2849 initially addressed safety standards for electrically pedal-assisted (EPAC) cycles. But with the increased popularity of e-bikes, e-motorbikes and e-scooters, UL 2849 has been updated to include all roadworthy cycles, not just EPACs. The third edition of the standard addresses the most recent issues to support safe use of any product intended for a single rider or possible passenger that is typically considered for road use, may have pedals, and is typically sat upon in operation. The standard addresses how to minimize the risk of electric shock during charging over the lifetime of the products such as evaluating real-world abuses, and demands to which these products are subjected.
  • Release of UL 3030, a new standard for unmanned aerial vehicles that support safer electrical systems. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones are fast changing the way commercial businesses transport cargo and conduct other specialized tasks in agricultural, scientific, research, governmental, law enforcement, search and rescue, film, news broadcast and roof inspection applications. The newly released UL 3030 addresses important requirements for the electrical systems of commercial UAVs operated by trained pilots.

UL is working with e-mobility and UAV manufacturers, retailers, importers and distributers around the world to evaluate and test the safety of lithium-battery powered devices before they enter the marketplace,” says Ibrahim Jilani, Global Business Development Leader for Energy Systems & e-Mobility at UL.  “We want to work together with industry to help get people and cargo from one place to another in a clean, efficient and safe way.”