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Tesla passes U.N. battery tests

Shake me, but don't break me. That's what the battery does.

The lithium ion car battery created by Tesla Motors has passed a battery of certification tests that effectively remove another hurdle in the path toward selling products.

Because they can burst into flames, lithium ion batteries are classified as dangerous goods, according to Erik Toomre, Director of Manufacturing Programs. "Before we ship it to the public, we have to demonstrate that it is safe," he said.

The United Nations has issued specifications on what tests lithium batteries have to pass and these regulations have been adopted and/or tweaked by various governments. In third party tests, both the individual lithium ion cells and the entire battery, which consists of 6,831 cells, passed the UN criteria.

It is something other electric car companies will have to do to.

What's involved? The batteries are deliberately short-circuited and placed on shaking tables. The company also did some puncture testing. Even if one cell blows, the battery pack is designed so that it won't burst into what the lithium ion industry quaintly calls "a runaway thermal reaction." That exploding Dell notebook? That was a runaway reaction.

The entire battery pack weighs about 1,000 pounds, Toomre added.

The company will include the battery packs in its cars as well as ship them to third parties.