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Problems with the Dreamliner battery

  1. Jan 24, 2013 #1
    Surprised there hasn't been a thread for this big topic. Any experts out there want to weigh in on what the problem is, how it can be fixed and what this means for Boeing?

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/24/travel/dreamliner-investigation/index.html?hpt=hp_t1
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 24, 2013 #2

    nsaspook

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    The thermite-style failure mode reactions are well know so I'm sure the calculation was made showing the frequency of it happening being very low. At least the means to handle it until burning out seems to be working.

    http://www.fire.tc.faa.gov/pdf/systems/lithium-ion_battery_04112006.pdf
    http://www.wpi.edu/Pubs/E-project/Available/E-project-121306-105357/unrestricted/CPSCIQP2006.pdf
    http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2020199686_787batterysafetyxml.html?prmid=4939

     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013
  4. Jan 25, 2013 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    There have been many problems with the Dreamliner but this was expected. It represents, by all accounts that I've heard, the biggest change in the construction of commercial airliners since we started building them. Note that it doesn't even have an airframe by traditional standards. So none of this is surprising. And they have probably solved problems far more difficult than this along way a thousand times over before the craft was certified for flight.

    Obviously everyone is anxious to get any remaining issues resolved but it seems to be a phenomenal aircraft. AFAIK, this and the previous delays are mainly PR and cash flow issues and not surprising from an engineering perspective.
     
  5. Jan 25, 2013 #4

    AlephZero

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    Indeed, and the outcome is pretty much what you would expect from a project with so many unknowns - delivered years late, way over budget, and doesn't work.

    Igmore all the BS public relations that "it's safe to fly". If anybody could come up with a creative argument that is it WAS safe to it was safe to fly, it would still be flying.

    The FAA also has some backtracking to do, considering it agreed new regulations specifically to certify the new 787 electrical system. I'm not expecting any quick resolution for this.

    Boeing have bet the farm on this one. The only good news here is, the 787 hasn't killed anybody .... yet.
     
  6. Jan 25, 2013 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    Why so negative? An Airbus fan I presume? :biggrin: There are issues but internally I don't hear any concerns like this.

    Of all the concerns that one might have for something this innovative, a battery problem seems pretty hard to worry about. There have been far bigger bumps along the way.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
  7. Jan 25, 2013 #6

    anorlunda

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    Boeing 787 Electrical System

    The 787 has been in the news much after recent battery fires. In media aricles I found several references to a possible interaction between the battery and the 787's unique electric power distribution system.

    What's so unique about the 787's electric power distribution system?

    Can anyone please provide a link to an article about it?

    Thanks.
     
  8. Jan 25, 2013 #7

    berkeman

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    Re: Boeing 787 Electrical System

    This is the closest I've found so far, but it's not much help:

    http://www.newairplane.com/787/design_highlights/#/visionary-design/systems/electric-architecture

    Click on the "Read More" button in the upper right. It only seems to be saying that there are more electrically operated items and fewer pneumatic/hydraulic items....
     
  9. Jan 25, 2013 #8

    berkeman

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  10. Jan 25, 2013 #9

    jim hardy

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  11. Jan 25, 2013 #10

    Astronuc

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    Re: Boeing 787 Electrical System

    I think it is the objective to reduce mass, which means increased power density. The Li-batteries have a smaller mass, but apparently flammable electrolytes.

    As far as I know, aircraft use electricity from generators driven from the jet engines. When the engines are shutdown and before the external power supply is connected, the batteries provide power. Some aircraft have small turbine powered auxilliary power units (APUs) in the tail.
     
  12. Jan 25, 2013 #11

    russ_watters

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    Similar threads merged.
     
  13. Jan 25, 2013 #12

    AlephZero

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    I tell it the way I see it. Both companies have made some pretty good aircraft, and some less good ones.

    IMO some of the other 787 problems in the news (e.g. brake failure, fuel leak, cracked window) ARE in the "no big deal" category. You don't ground an aircraft type permanently worldwide because of stuff like that. But the 787 electrical system is in a different league - it's a totally new concept and covers far more functionality than on any previous commercial aircraft. If that doesn't work, the problems are big time, and could involve huge amounts of redesign work - including knock-on effects like redesigned engines.

    There were some "11th hour" electrical problems with the flight test programme back in 2010, which caused more delays to entry into service. Unsurprisingly, there's not much in the public domain about what really happened back then, but sometimes stuff like that comes back to haunt you...

    One measure of the seriousness of grounding an entire aircraft type is how rarely it happens. The last time was back in 1979 (the DC-10, following a crash).
     
  14. Jan 25, 2013 #13

    nsaspook

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  15. Jan 26, 2013 #14

    jim hardy

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    spook - your link suggests a safer alternative battery?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_iron_phosphate_battery

    at first glance one has to ask "why didn't they.... ?"

    I have a strong opinion - some parts of machines should remain mechanical instead of electric. I won't own an automobile with electric steering or a computer between my foot and throttle & brakes.
    Or a huge li-ion battery right under my butt. Some years back a small one in my pocket nearly set my pants afire.

    old jim
     
  16. Jan 26, 2013 #15

    nsaspook

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    I don't know why but lithium cobalt oxide batteries would not have been my choice for a large electrical system design where safety was a top priority. I've been designing an off-grid solar battery management system for a future retirement home and will never have them inside my house at the power levels I need for daily power storage (>5kWh daily). They just have really bad failure modes because IMO the lithium metal reaction is intrinsically unsafe as Boeing was using 4X redundancy in the BMS to prevent problems that are still happening.

    Remember Dell?
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1526424/Exploding-laptops-prompt-Dell-battery-recall.html
     
  17. Jan 26, 2013 #16

    rollingstein

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    Can they just work with the current battery and retrofit an emergency battery jettison system? :devil:
     
  18. Jan 26, 2013 #17

    nsaspook

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  19. Jan 26, 2013 #18

    rollingstein

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  20. Jan 26, 2013 #19

    nsaspook

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    The FAA Boeing 'special battery conditions' http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2007-10-11/pdf/E7-19980.pdf

    Boeing planned to change the batteries:
    http://www.flightglobal.com/news/ar...-787-lithium-ion-battery-service-life-224663/

     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2013
  21. Jan 26, 2013 #20

    jim hardy

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    Thanks spook !
    i never dreamed there are so many varieties of Li batteries..

    From American Manganese:
    http://www.canadianminingjournal.com/press-releases/story.aspx?id=1002006696
    (bold mine - jh)
    and from Battery University:
    credit for the graph: http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/types_of_lithium_ion
    li_9(1).jpg
    Battery University's page is worth a look. It rates cobalt variety less safe.
     
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