Japan Airlines Boeing 787 Battery Fire Caused by a Thermal Runaway Condition
February 11, 2013 9:17 AM
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Investigation continues focusing on battery certification
The investigation into the fire that affected a Japanese Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Boston Logan Airport on January 7 has pinpointed the source of the
. According to the NTSB, the JAL lithium-ion battery comprised of eight individual cells showed multiple signs of short-circuiting leading to a thermal runaway condition.
That thermal runaway condition then cascaded to other cells in the battery leading to the blaze. According to the NTSB, charred battery components indicated that the temperature inside the battery case exceeded 500°F. The focus of the investigation moving forward will now be on the design and certification requirements for the battery system.
"U.S. airlines carry about two million people through the skies safely every day, which has been achieved in large part through design redundancy and layers of defense," said Hersman. "Our task now is to see if enough - and appropriate - layers of defense and adequate checks were built into the design, certification and manufacturing of this battery."
Boeing 787 production line [Image Source: Boeing]
The investigation has ruled out mechanical impact damage to the battery and external short-circuiting. There were signs of deformation and electrical arcing on the battery case not related to the cause of the fire according to investigators. Boeing had tested the battery during the 787 certification process and found no evidence to support that this sort of fire within the battery pack could occur.
Boeing has issued a statement on the investigation update stating that it plans to remain committed to working with the NTSB and the FAA along with its customers to maintain a high level of safety. “The 787 was certified following a rigorous Boeing test program and an extensive certification program conducted by the FAA. We provided testing and analysis in support of the requirements of the FAA special conditions associated with the use of lithium ion batteries,” said Boeing’s Marc Birtel. “We are working collaboratively to address questions about our testing and compliance with certification standards, and we will not hesitate to make changes that lead to improved testing processes and products.”
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RE: propagation of fire to adjacent cells??
2/11/2013 11:59:32 PM
GM's and their battery partners understand Lithium chemistry quite well. They have never burst into flames in normal use like the ones used on the 787. They also have only caught fire in abnormal circumstances. NHTSA wrecked it (actually they wrecked three and only one caught fire) damaging the battery, let it sit in a garage for a week still damaged/compromised, letting the coolant drain out of said damaged battery,
without at any point discharging the battery as recommended
? I don't understand your point. I'd say its a given that negligence causes problems.
Regardless, it caused enough bad press (even though it was not a real-world crash event) that they further reinforced the area around the battery to better shield it from damage during such tests. In addition, the Spark EV is going to be using Li-Polymer. It doesn't have quite the power density, though. If they can improve Li-Po enough it might end up in more vehicles.
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