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Electronics & Test

Were the Boeing 787 Batteries Cooled Properly?

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Elizabeth M
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Re: Let's hope they get the chemistry right
Elizabeth M   1/28/2013 4:50:00 PM
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Well, good! If that's the way it has to be, that's the way it has to be. Better to wait until the design is completely safe to fly the fleet than risk human life.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Batteries, not composites
Elizabeth M   1/28/2013 4:50:32 PM
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Yes, Ann, good point! At least it seems like that part of the design is sound.

apresher
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Boeing 787
apresher   1/28/2013 4:51:29 PM
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Given the importance of this issue to Boeing, I would be shocked if it kept the 787 down until 2014.  That would be a major setback to a very high profile program.  But I also think their engineers will also be very careful in avoiding missteps in implementing a solution to this problem. Not an easy thing to have the world watching while you solve a complex technical issue.

Charles Murray
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Re: Were the Boeing 787 Batteries Cooled Properly
Charles Murray   1/28/2013 4:53:43 PM
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Very good point, Paul. Elton Cairns of the University of California agrees with you. He told us that the higher, colder altitudes were a detriment, not an advantage in this situation. Cairns, by the way, should know: He designed the PEM fuel cells for the Gemini spaceflights in the 1960s.

edsparks3
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Overheating?
edsparks3   1/28/2013 4:57:15 PM
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I can't believe Boeing would use a battery design that was not so carefully bench tested that there was absolutely no way it could overheat no matter what happened to the charging circuit and no matter how little cooling was available.    

On the other hand it is quite possible that due to vibration in the aircraft, the electrodes might go into a vibrational resonance allowing a couple to touch each other and cause an internal short.  This could be difficult - but not impossible - to simulate on the bench.  

But it might answer a lot of questions. 

 

Charles Murray
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Re: Design Decisions
Charles Murray   1/28/2013 5:06:41 PM
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That's a scary thought, Bill. It's not hard to imagine Boeing deliberately choosing cobalt oxide for the higher energy density. That's its chief advantage over other lithium-ion chemistries and it's the reason many engineers choose that chemistry. But as for their alleged lack of a cooling system: It's anybody's guess. I think a lot of engineers are still climbing the learning curve when it comes to all the lithium-ion chemistries.

edsparks3
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Re: Were the Boeing 787 Batteries Cooled Properly
edsparks3   1/28/2013 5:10:05 PM
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Ougassing should have been observed during tests.  True, low atmospheric pressure might accelerate outgassing but the atmospheric pressure inside a (pressurized) commercial aircraft cabin is generally in the range of normal. 

I also think vibration could be the culprit.  (see my comment, above).  

Charles Murray
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Re: Were the Boeing 787 Batteries Cooled Properly
Charles Murray   1/28/2013 5:13:22 PM
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What is the atmospheric pressure inside a commercial aircraft, edsparks3? I believe I've always heard 2/3rds of an atmosphere.

bobjengr
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Re: Design Decisions
bobjengr   1/28/2013 5:18:45 PM
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nelso7926, I agree completely.  No injuries and certainly no fatalities.  I'm sure Boeing has tested and retested this system so I would certainly hope the issue is inadequate cooling and not the lack of cooling.    With that being the case, are all of the failures on the ground?  Are any experienced in flight?   Also, can anyone tell me if there are redundant systems for this device?  I don't think so but do not know. 

williamlweaver
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Re: Design Decisions
williamlweaver   1/28/2013 6:40:05 PM
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I share your scary thought, Chuck. I will always give Scientists and Engineers the benefit of the doubt, but as we are remembering the 27th anniversary of the loss of the Challenger's Crew today, sometimes margins of risk get bundled together into an "acceptable flight risk". Not suspecting anything nefarious, but with such a complex system, sometimes it is only possible to rank relative risk in hindsight.

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