Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Batteries, Chargers, and Battery Management Systems.
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neptronix   100 GW

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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by neptronix » Jan 20 2013 11:34pm

Lol. I think the comments about someone here making a safer battery pack weren't out of line.
Yes, there are things a battery manufacturer can do to make li-co fairly safe.
But the odds are still against you. If your safety mechanisms fail, you have basically the most dangerous combination of elements found in a production lithium battery. The result is going to be the same as a RC Lipo fire.

My mind is still blown that they'd use something like this. Seriously - Li-mn, lifepo4, etc weren't good enough?
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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by Alan B » Jan 20 2013 11:59pm

They need a guaranteed 330 minutes of power plus rapid charging, redundancy and more, and are making a fleet of hundreds of aircraft. Every pound costs a large sum over the life of the fleet. LiFePO4 have their own problems, one of which is spotty availability, and most product in that market won't handle the high charge rates needed. A123 was an unstable company at best, not suitable for aircraft supply. The A123 company is to blame for the lack of LiFePO4 penetration into many market spaces - they blew it big time in so many ways. This was not an easy selection. There is no way we can second guess their process with any precision. The requirements for this battery are a light year from what ebikes need in reliability. Hopefully the design is sound and some poor manufacturing and QC will be found and eliminated. This plane has been in service since 2011 and tested for years before that, so this is not something that happened immediately.

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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by Hillhater » Jan 21 2013 4:09am

Good points Alan, but this is not a big volume order , or a critical custom integrated component ( you could replace or substitute this battery module easily ) so security of supply was/is not a critical factor.
They could have chosen any one of several alternate chemistry systems or suppliers ( I am willing to bet they have a 2ndary supplier available) .
It will be interesting if we are ever told the full logic behind this choice and the root cause of failure.
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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by ebent » Jan 21 2013 5:31am

The battery chemistry was specified in 2005 or 2006. This is indicated earlier in this thread. There was no LiFePO4 at that time. Probably an engineer did not want to deal with an improved change. I imagine a ton of paper work...The mindset was good enough.
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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by amberwolf » Jan 21 2013 6:04am

With commercial aircraft, it's not just paperwork, but when a major change and even some minor ones are made to a plane's design, it must be "re-flown", meaning a series of re-qualification flights toa prpove that ist changes are ok and won't affect ti operation. But this costs a lot of money. In the early 90s it would've cost more than a million $ for doing that on th eMD8x series, which was considered for some software change I forget the details of, and even more than that for something on the A320 when they wanted to change the flash memory chips in the redundant computer boards in the fligh t computer for some reliability reasons. (I don't knwo if thye ever went hru with either change; i was laid off before then)

Dunno if changing the battery chemistry and associated electronisc would've forced a re-fly.

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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by dogman dan » Jan 21 2013 6:26am

Yep, you can't just change stuff easily on an aircraft. Unless it's your own homebuilt experimental. We might see an airworthiness directive now though, that says use lifepo4.

An AD is a serious blow to any manufacturer though, grounding all of em till fixed. But this just might trigger one.

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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by Hillhater » Jan 21 2013 7:11am

Sorry, but i cannot believe that a change of auxilliary battery would be cause for a major requalification.
Where do you draw the line ?
..change the pilots headset = reflight tests ??
..change the toilet seats = reflight tests ??
Even the 380's major RR engine failures didnt ground the whole fleet ! :shock:
I have been on flights where all the cabin electrics..lights, entertainment, PA, etc ..all failed, yet the crew didnt find it unusual !
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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by Njay » Jan 21 2013 8:49am

Hillhater wrote:(...) ..all failed, yet the crew didnt find it unusual !
Of course not. What would you do if you saw the crew in panic :)?

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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by melodious » Jan 21 2013 9:27am

Removed my inane utterly useless comment that really doesn't contribute to the thread.
Last edited by melodious on Feb 23 2013 10:14pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by fizzit » Jan 21 2013 1:26pm

Boeing surplus closed a few years ago :(
And I don't imagine they'd just replace and sell off the batteries. There's probably a lot of proprietary electronics and circuit design in those things, and they'd want to keep them to analyze and dissect them for a thorough failure analysis.
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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by Alan B » Jan 21 2013 1:57pm

This isn't that small an order. 800+ planes already, and enough Lithium to run many systems for 6 hours, replacing the hydraulics and the compressed air systems, and maintaining cabin pressure, if what the reports say is true. This is not just a couple of batteries, and these are critical systems. They likely have to approve multiple sources of the batteries, so A123 would not be acceptable as alternate sources were not allowed by the company's design. Hard to second guess all the issues. Hope they get it sorted out quickly, Boeing can't afford not to.

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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by dnmun » Jan 21 2013 2:38pm

you gotta feel for poor engineer who has this monkey. he knows he is gonna be fired for this happening, they expect him to work 24/7 until this is fixed. pressure from the top of Thales and from boeing. management constantly demanding results and taking half developed ideas to sell up the food chain to their bosses.

so he has no job after this, why would he not just quit? he should be negotiating his exit package right now with the top brass, or they will give him nothing when they can him. his only leverage is promising them he will work on the project along with all the new fire fighters brought in from other parts of the company.

these two incidents perhaps were not fires. just smoke from overheating since we have not seen pictures of these packs. one pack (on the ramp in boston) was in the rear compartment and one (the ANA flight that made the emergency landing) was in the forward bay under the cockpit.

so there could be two different problems, and this is after 4 years of test flights and a lot of hours in operation for the prototypes. they did state there is no evidence of excess charge voltage, but that may be pack level data too.

the problem now is the level of the demands that the secretary has placed on the FAA, this is now like a full review of the entire aircraft development/assembly process. not just the battery alone now.

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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by Hillhater » Jan 21 2013 5:23pm

dnmun wrote: these two incidents perhaps were not fires. just smoke from overheating since we have not seen pictures of these packs.....
so what were the pic's earlier in this thread ????
Image
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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by Hillhater » Jan 21 2013 5:39pm

Alan B wrote:This isn't that small an order. 800+ planes already,.
:shock: 800 Dreamliners already ???..Total forward orders maybe, but only 50 delivered !
Even that number would be a small order to a major battery supplier, compared to the tens of thousands for the Leaf, Volt, Off grid storage banks, or even the millions of Chinese Ebikes that are built every year.
Alan B wrote:... and enough Lithium to run many systems for 6 hours, replacing the hydraulics and the compressed air systems, and maintaining cabin pressure, if what the reports say is true. This is not just a couple of batteries, and these are critical systems..
No way these packs can support those systems for that period. Its a 1500W max output ( 32v, 47A) approx 2kWhr capacity.
They have an Aux generator For back up power and these bat's can act as starter power for those aux generators.
When all is said , its just a battery !
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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by davec » Jan 21 2013 8:12pm

bottom line is they used a volatile dangerous chemistry that should have never been used. airbuses/ helicopter / dc10's all used nicads and i never heard of any incidents like this.

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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by Hillhater » Jan 21 2013 9:16pm

davec wrote:bottom line is they used a volatile dangerous chemistry that should have never been used. airbuses/ helicopter / dc10's all used nicads and i never heard of any incidents like this.
In 40 years, I have had 2 battery fires /explosions ...both with NiCads !!
There are many options of cell technology they could have chosen, but NiCad would not be near the top of my list !
..its a 50year old technology, superseded several times.
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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by fechter » Jan 21 2013 10:32pm

Hillhater wrote: In 40 years, I have had 2 battery fires /explosions ...both with NiCads !!
Me too. I had to pull metal shards out of the wall with pliers.
I've had some lead-acids that came close but never really burned or exploded.

Any battery that stores a lot of energy has the potential to burn something. By using proper safeguards, the risks can be minimized. Obviously their safeguards were lacking somewhere.
"One test is worth a thousand opinions"

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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by Hillhater » Jan 21 2013 10:57pm

more info / pictures / theories..
http://www.eeweb.com/blog/davide_andrea ... ttery-fire

Are those two pictures of carnage, the same battery pack ?
they look like 2 different packs to me !
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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by fechter » Jan 22 2013 9:27am

I think there were two recent pack fires, one in Boston and one in Japan.

I agree with the guy's analysis that the BMS didn't do its job properly.

They were smart to break the pack up into 8s sections and use a metal can to contain them. This probably saved it from a much worse disaster.

Boy would I like to get my hands on some used packs like that.
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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by grindz145 » Jan 22 2013 2:18pm

I have no idea what the requirements for this battery were, but there are off-the-shelf military batteries of the same chemistry that I imagine would have served the purpose, stayed safe and been much more sophisticated.

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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by ebent » Jan 22 2013 2:21pm

I see very little press in regards to choice of chemistry. Not much about Lithium cobalt. It seems like those 3 chimps, each covering another monkeys eyes, mouth, and ears. Because it is Boeing I expected the brightest people on the planet to quickly resolve the issue. I hope this is more about the press not knowing and not about the engineers. But I'm skeptical. Clearly the combined knowledge of ES is miles ahead of what the press says. Press meaning the majors. Now there is some bad and uninformed press on lithium. I expect a meaningful awareness here on ES. My expectations are exceeded. I'm glad of that. But also concerned. I'm just an average guy and I know more about the correct chemistry to use in an airplane then Boeing does. That scares me.
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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by Chalo » Jan 22 2013 3:15pm

ebent wrote:Because it is Boeing I expected the brightest people on the planet to quickly resolve the issue.
Clearly there are limits to your experience with corporate culture. Major corporations actually filter out and exclude the very brightest individuals in their fields, perhaps inadvertently but often on purpose. They are just not that into individuals with gifts and idiosyncrasies and convictions. They prefer to work with commodity components.

I worked in a private space startup for over five years. The people I worked with at the beginning were definitely the smartest and among the most interesting people I have ever known. Five years later, the Boeing guys were piling in and it was time to bail out.

Corporate guys, smart or not, are just worker bees. They do their jobs, and only their jobs, as defined for them by their managers. For an extreme example of the sorts of things that happen when someone goes out of his way to do right in that type of situation, read the stuff upthread about Michael Leon and Securaplane Technologies.
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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by Hillhater » Jan 22 2013 4:09pm

fechter wrote: Boy would I like to get my hands on some used packs like that.
:shock: What ..all burnt and melted ? :lol:
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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by John in CR » Jan 22 2013 4:33pm

fechter wrote:I agree with the guy's analysis that the BMS didn't do its job properly.
Who needs analysis? My first thought was "uh-oh, another BMS killed its battery."

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Re: Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire

Post by grindz145 » Jan 22 2013 5:12pm

I read that it was not due to overcharge. For whatever that's worth.

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