Aviation experts said the energetic quality of lithium-ion can be a concern onboard aircraft. "One of the issues with lithium batteries is they get very hot," Freiwald said. "When they ignite, they can burn so hot that Halon 1301 won't extinguish a fire."
Automakers, many of whom use lithium-ion chemistries in hybrids and electric cars, typically operate their batteries with cooling systems. The Chevy Volt, for example, employs a fluid coolant that circulates through 1mm thick channels machined into 144 metal plates sitting between the battery's cells. Other automakers have employed air cooling on hybrids.
Even with cooling, however, lithium-ion automotive batteries have been known to have problems on rare occasions. In 2011, a fire started in a Chevy Volt weeks after government crash testing, causing a ripple of concern. "The chemistry is edgy," Donald Sadoway of MIT wrote in an email to Design News after the incident. "The electrolyte is an organic fluid that is flammable, highly volatile at even moderately elevated temperature and in the presence of metallic lithium, which can form on the negative electrode at high charging rates."
Although it's not known whether the Dreamliner employs battery cooling systems, its batteries are smaller than those of plug-in hybrid cars. A National Transportation Board (NTSB) examination of an auxiliary power battery unit from the JAL Boeing 787 that caught fire in Boston's Logan Airport on January 7 showed that it measures 19 inches x 13 inches x 10 inches and weighs just 63 pounds. In contrast, electric vehicle batteries can weigh more than 400 pounds.
Freiwald said he doubts the two reported fuel leaks are related to the overheating incidents. Those were more likely to have been caused by human error, he said.
Experts who spoke with Design News emphasized that the cause of the problems isn't fully understood yet, and that such incidents need to be put into perspective. "None of these were catastrophic failures," Dietz told us. "The engineering systems provided an alert to the failures and action was taken. There should be some solace in that."
At first all the failures may look unrelated due to the fact they all perform different functions on the Airbus.
But before a general comment can be made as in the article, as an engineer, I would investigate the specifications requirements from all these peice parts and check in- fact they have been enviromentaly accepted for high altitude low atmospheric pressure, Vibration of jet engine frequency and air turbulance of sympathetic oscillations, and extreme temperature changes mostly cold temps.
Now if we take all these into effects, I bet we might find a common thread. It cost $$$ for screens like this and BOEING could have cut cost by using "COTS" of the shelf items.
The Lithium batteries were once not allowed on board plane in laptops because of inherient design issues that caused a possible fire. What has changed with Lithium batteries to make them safe???
Someone in BOEING is an Engineer of poor judgement....Not the structure of the aircraft but selected components not purchased properly for the job is whats at fault.
I bought a Cadillac and the dealer gives me a Chevrolet...get my point
I find it ironic that the 787 uses high capacity Lithium Ion batteries for its standby/startup power when such batteries onboard as cargo have had severe restrictions placed upon them in the past. For example UPS considers batteries with a watt/hour capacity greater than 20 but less than 100 to be shippable but only when handled as hazardous material. Anything above 100 Wh is not shippable by air according to UPS. This for a disconnected, not in service battery!
The IATA bans cargo shipments of primary cell Lithium Metal batteries from all passenger planes. Obviously, the button cell in your wristwatch is okay as long as it isn't part of a cargo shipment.
The IATA regulation of 100 Wh or less for secondary Lithium Ion batteries has been the limiting factor for available run time for professional video cameras.
Overcharging is well known to cause overheating. The charging system and overheating protection system need to wwork to prevent this. Apparently this has not been completely effective. I would look carefully at the charging system to see what unusual conditions may exist. Perhaps the intense cold in the exterior environment could trick the charging system into overcharging.
SystemsGuy, my understanding is that this battery came into play only on the ground, i.e. something to do with landing gear controls or something. So high altitude cold air doesn't help that situation much.
In any case, flight controls probably get their biggest workout getting to altitude or landing, all lower altitude issues, and must be designed for the worst case.
Liaison engineers have commented previously that Boeing may have done too much too soon with this aircraft.
We have had lithium systems problems in E scooters where thermal overload shut down the 48V system via the batteries management software. We concluded that heavy current draw during acceleration was causing the problem and tried conditioning that by tweaking the controller
Very good point, davemiga. I've heard -- unofficially -- that it was cobalt, but haven't been able to verify it. And, yes, a cobalt chemistry is slightly more susceptible to overheating, although all lithium-ion chemistries are on the edge (with the possible exception of the so-called "nanophophate" chemistries).
The description of the meltdown seems that they might be using lithium cobalt, not a good design choice if that is the case. Lithium iron phosphate LiFeP04 would be the only safe choice. Anyone know what Boeing used?
Lithium-Ion chemistry is also used in the Chevy Volt, the Fisker and other electric vehicles (but notably not in the Toyota Prius). Li-ion is a very energetic chemistry, which is necessary to pack so much energy in a limited volume. Gasoline is even more efficient, so much so that it can explode in situations where Li-ion batteries would only burn.
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