Advanced Batteries boeing-dreamliner-battery

Published on February 26th, 2013 | by Nicholas Brown

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Short-Term Fix For Boeing Dreamliner Battery Issue

boeing-dreamliner-batteryOn January  7, 2013, a Boeing Dreamliner (787) aircraft’s lithium-ion battery caught fire and alarmed many people about the safety of lithium-ion batteries on board big airplanes. While Beoing is still trying to determine the cause of the fire, they’ve come up with a short-term solution…a new battery case.

Researchers have been trying to determine the problem with little luck, and they said that a single cell of the battery pack sustained multiple short-circuits, one of which caused thermal runaway, or as we regular people call it, “fire.” The possibility of mechanical damage to the batteries was ruled out, as well as the possibility that there was a short-circuit between the cell and battery case.

According to the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Deborah Hersman: “We are looking at the state of charge of the battery cells, we are looking at manufacturing processes and we are looking at the design of the battery.”.

Boeing has been defending the usage of lithium-ion batteries, citing their benefits. Right now lithium-ion batteries are the standard of the market, being the most compact,powerful, and cost-effective batteries on the market. However some airlines, such as Airbus, would rather not bother with lithium-ion batteries at all.

Boeing intends to build a new case for the battery which is resilient enough to contain battery fires completely so they don’t ignite the rest of the plane, but to some, this is a band-aid, and the root cause of the problem needs to be solved so that there are no more fires. That sounds reasonable, fortunately, there is another development mentioned below.

According to Japan’s transport safety board, the main battery (the one that overheated) was incorrectly connected to the auxiliary power unit. Boeing intends to increase the space between each of the lithium-ion cells to prevent overheating in the future, as cells heat radiate their heat into each other.

If the FAA accepts Boeing’s new design, then the plane could get off the ground in only a month.

Source: Wired

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is: Kompulsa.com.



  • anderlan

    It’s fascinating how Tesla’s approach is so completely different to everyone else’s packs!  Regular commodity cells.  They worked out the basics very early on and basically built the company on the back of what they thought they could do with laptop cells.  And they seem to be succeeding.  It seems like they could benefit from the more commodity form factor because they won’t have to wait for manufacturers to roll out new chemistries to the lower-volume prismatic vehicle cell format.  Plus, their packs failure modes are much more granular. While everyone else is gimped for the same reasons. What say you? 

    (Man I’d pay real money for a real engineer-edited, engineer-consumed cleantech rag, if you know any.)

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