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Electronics & Test

Were the Boeing 787 Batteries Cooled Properly?

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Charles Murray
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Re: Battery cooling
Charles Murray   3/1/2013 6:53:16 PM
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I don't know if there was any official mention of it, lcs1956. However, in one of our subsequent articles, Elton Cairns of Lawrence-Berkeley labs said this: "When the plane is at altitude, the air is less dense," he told us. "So even if it's cooler, the less dense air may not have adequate heating capacity to provide enough cooling for the battery. If they don't have active cooling, then I question the adequacy of the cooling arrangement."

lcs1956
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Battery cooling
lcs1956   2/26/2013 7:40:20 PM
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Has anyone considered the lack of adequate convective cooling at cruising altitude? I used to work at Los Alamos in the 80s and several devices designed at sea level would fail due to overheating at the 7700 feet altitude arising from the lower air density, especially CRT computer terminals.
 
 


harpat
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Re: 787 batteries
harpat   2/10/2013 4:03:56 PM
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Technology has become too complex and there are a lot of pitfalls in almost everything but especially so when new technology is introduced. Analysis and deliberation takes so much time that management becomes impatient. Most companies have replaced team managers with semi-technical or pseudo technical schedule pushers with the philosophy that ignorance is bliss when schedules have to be met. After all the world is very competetive and risk taking has become the name of the game. But not having a back up plan such as an alternative battery pack design which may be more reliable though somewhat less efficient is a serious incompetency issue. Boeing would be lucky if the cause can be determined with certainty and even if it is determined, the increased scrutinity will not allow immediate release of the fix. The finacial damage cused by the delay is far out of proportion to the benefit of the new battery.

Charles Murray
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Re: Design Decisions
Charles Murray   1/31/2013 7:01:44 PM
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Virtually everyone agrees with you at this point, Jenn -- NTSB, most newspapers and experts. Even USA Today even did an editorial calling for the 787 to be grounded until the problems are fully understood.  

Charles Murray
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Re: 787 batteries
Charles Murray   1/30/2013 6:28:00 PM
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I think you're right on the money when you say that good engineers solve these problems, given enough time, Gorksi PE. Occasionally, there are mistakes, but engineers know how to handle high-energy situations. Gasoline holds far more energy than lithium-ion batteries, and it seems like engineers have mastered the safety of the internal combustion engine.

Jennifer Campbell
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Re: Design Decisions
Jennifer Campbell   1/30/2013 1:32:17 PM
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I think you are right on, YJ77. And, to quote Mr. Sadoway, "I wouldn't fly in a 787 at this point." Frankly, I can't imagine who would.

Gorski
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787 batteries
Gorski   1/30/2013 12:59:30 PM
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It seems to me that the battery problem on the 787 is the result of engineering being pushed too far too fast. Now that the problem is out in the open many "experts" are saying it's the cooling system. It sounds like this common knowledge about the characteristics of the 787 batteries. If so, why did the engineers go ahead and not put a cooling system in? No time? There was a schedule to meet? It's a monir problem? Good engineers  solve these problems,given enough time.

Gorski PE

 

Gorski
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Platinum
787 batteries
Gorski   1/30/2013 12:59:30 PM
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It seems to me that the battery problem on the 787 is the result of engineering being pushed too far too fast. Now that the problem is out in the open many "experts" are saying it's the cooling system. It sounds like this common knowledge about the characteristics of the 787 batteries. If so, why did the engineers go ahead and not put a cooling system in? No time? There was a schedule to meet? It's a monir problem? Good engineers  solve these problems,given enough time.

Gorski PE

 

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: Batteries, not composites
Ann R. Thryft   1/30/2013 12:32:01 PM
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The answer's complex. Boeing wasn't exactly forthcoming about details and there were many, many news items, much of it speculation. This article, and its comments board, might give you some idea. http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=238056

gatesbe
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Iron
Re: Don’t jump into conclusions
gatesbe   1/30/2013 12:03:22 PM
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I agree, don't jump to conclusions. It would be difficult to find a generic design flaw that was so carefully balanced that only two batteries have destructed out of the one hundred batteries in the fifty delivered airplanes. I would expect dozens of battery fires if the heat dissipation was ignored as in "you have to use active cooling".  To me it seems that the apparent rarity of problems seems to fit some less obvious design flaw or a quality assurance problem.

Just a word about the composite construction. Take a look at the carbon composite B-2, in service since 1997. I don't think carbon composites are a new thing to Boeing. 

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