The US Department of Transportation (DOT) is soliciting nominees for a new Lithium Battery Safety Advisory Committee that will be housed within the Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

“The Department is seeking experts from diverse technical and transportation backgrounds to evaluate safety improvements for the transportation of lithium batteries,” DOT secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement.

The committee’s membership will consist of representatives from manufacturers of lithium-ion (Li-ion) cells or batteries, as well manufacturers of Li-ion-powered consumer goods and vehicles. It will also include commercial and cargo air carriers—as well as pilots—along with DOT employees including FAA and PHMSA personnel;

DOT said in a statement the committee will provide a forum to “solicit stakeholder input to continually strengthen the safety of multimodal lithium battery transportation.” It also said the panel would advise DOT on developing policy positions for international forums and on how to raise awareness of lithium battery safety requirements.

The FAA Reauthorization Act gave the committee 180 days from the date of its establishment to issue a report to Congress describing the steps being taken in the private sector and by international regulatory authorities to enforce requirements relating to safe air transportation of bulk shipments of Li-ion cells and batteries. The report will highlight gaps in enforcement of regulations where the committee says greater attention is needed.

The DOT in February issued an interim final rule prohibiting passenger airlines from carrying rechargeable Li-ion cells or batteries as cargo, noting their potential of causing uncontrollable fire in cargo holds.

Ben Goldstein,