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Thursday, January 17, 2013


Nightmareliner -

(Updated Sunday, 1_20_2013 see below.  And again 1_30_2013.)

The VERY unfortunate and unfunny conflation of "Dreamliner" with nightmare/s or nightmarish events seen with the Dreamliner (Boeing's 787 airliner).

We'll go to the latest press release from the NTSB: "Second Investigative Update of Boston Boeing 787 Battery Fire".  Yes, you read that right, 'battery fire'.  Seems that the Lithium-ion batteries for the jets are catching fire (for "unknown reasons") with leaks of the lithium electrolyte fluid a possibility?  An electrolyte leak could make fire spread and fire conditions even worse - fortunately one of the incidents required only "just about one half hour of extinguishing by the emergency staff".

The NTSB release almost occurred simultaneously with the FAA Dreamliner grounding announcement.

Credit: NTSB, US Government Work, Public Domain

As you can see posted above, the NTSB posted photos of burned 787 batteries with its PR.  Well, shouldn't they have fire-tested those batteries before?  Well, yes and no, we found a PowerPoint presentation from the FAA regarding the fire testing of smaller commercial lithium ion batteries - but nothing yet on the full-scale commercial airline format.  At least nothing related to the full-scale battery was found in our search.

Presumably, GS Yuasa was awarded the *contract to supply the full-scale 787 aviation batteries.  Link to the (presumed) spec sheet here.  The spec sheet (as of this writing) states that the battery has a "Prismatic Shape" - which doesn't appear to resemble the photo/s supplied by the NTSBWhat shape exactly is the battery form supposed to be?

If we read further down the spec sheet (under "Safety and Handling") we see that the "cell design details and specification are subject to change without notice."  We sincerely hope that that verbiage wasn't approved in the *original contract.

The "Safety and Handling" section goes on to read: "Inappropriate handling or application...can result...even in the possibility of smoke generation or fire".

Yes, that is a known safety/hazard factor in Lithium ion batteries!  See the link to the above PDF.  Also, see the reports from the Consumer Product Safety Commission dating back to 2006.  Of course, the GSY contract award for the specified batteries pre-dates those 2006 incidents.

We also saw proposed safety labeling for the Lithium ion batteries in the Federal Register (2010). 

Credit: Federal Register, U. S. Government Work, Public Domain

Further safety and hazard precautions are found for Lithium ion batteries in what appears to be a sample military grade battery Material Safety Data SheetPlease note: the manufacturer of the battery for our sample MSDS is not involved or implicated in the current Dreamliner battery fires!

And the Wikimedia Foundation has an Ebook available on Google Books - and it also contains similar recommendations and precautions.

The element Lithium, itself, is rated as non-flammable but has some other safety issues on its own.  The problems appear to arise in the Lithium battery - and its electrolyte (when leaked) - in certain applications like the Nightmareliner.   Er, sorry, we mean the "Dreamliner".  To be fair in the end, Boeing has also posted their own PR statement on the incidents (FAA 787 Action).

Update 1_20_2013 The FAA #designated Boeing to generate LiIon battery data #Nightmareliner http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324624404578253010041254492.html#articleTabs%3Dvideo Via @WSJ  Most of the video reported by Andy Pasztor, LA WSJ Sr. Correspondent.

Update 1_30_2013 Boeing's Batteries Draw Criticism as Dreamliner Probe Continues | Autopia | Wired.com http://www.wired.com/autopia/2013/01/boeing-787-battery-design-musk/

Update 2_05_2013

Boeing Asks FAA to Lift Grounding of Dreamliners for Test Flights http://soc.li/YoyaG3I Via CNBC

Update 2_10_2013

Expect Dreamliner delays, Boeing tells airlines http://reut.rs/1501qgw via @reuters
Update 3_06_2013
Analytical theory may bring improvements to lithium-ion batteries http://phys.org/news/2013-03-analytical-theory-lithium-ion-batteries.html
 via @physorg_com
How lithium electrochemical research might save the Boeing Dreamliner http://www.examiner.com/article/how-lithium-electrochemical-research-might-save-the-boeing-dreamliner
via @examinercom

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congrats! You're among the first to connect the dots on the 787's battery and the risks posed by a Li Ion thermal event.

Stay on it, and google "securaplane whistleblower' and 'securaplane fire' for material sure enough to make you spill your coffee.

Feel free to contact me-the more eyes we have on this, the better.

Roland Delhomme