Jim, James--Boeing, IMO, is a core company for the USA with so much "3rd Industrial Revolution" technology involved in the 787. It appears to me that they can not meet the 100% fire-free safety requirements needed for the 787 with their current time constraint (near zero), and will have to switch to an alternative battery. Perhaps they have planned for this.
The composite article below seems to indicate that Boeing will not have an easy time solving their battery problems, or convincing others that they are truly safe. In the end, they likey will have to replace this lithium battery with another type, probably non-lithium.
BA will be interesting to follow, because it is so critical to the USA's place in the aerospace world, and, when they resolve this problem, should be a solid investment. So far, in this rally, the stock has held up, but we have sold our position.--Lou
Boeing Lithium-Ion Battery Problems
Investigators also are delving into Boeing’s supply chain. The National Transportation Safety Board said Friday that it would send an investigator to France to test a part that connects the battery to the plane’s wiring.
In all types of battery design, safety is a top priority, lithium-ion batteries contain safety devices to prevent overheating, but if contaminants enter during production, the safety systems will fail. That's why the planes have been grounded. Not only did the batteries overheat, their redundant safety systems didn't kick in.
Besides the battery, this connector is the fourth component to come under scrutiny in the jet’s innovative electrical system. Investigators have also inspected the plants that made the battery charger and a controller unit, which are both in Arizona, as well as a facility that makes the battery’s monitoring unit in Japan. The battery itself, using a volatile lithium-cobalt chemistry, is made by GS Yuasa in Japan.
In releasing an update on Friday, the board said it was still testing the battery that ignited on a Japan Airlines 787 while parked at Boston’s Logan International Airport on Jan. 7. Another 787, owned by All Nippon, made an emergency landing in Japan on Jan. 16 after the pilots received warnings of a battery problem and smelled smoke.
Electric cars have had their share of public battery missteps--most notably when the Chevy Volt and Fisker Karma extended-range electric vehicles were found to catch fire under certain circumstances, prompting investigations. Under high temperatures, lithium-ion batteries can ignite or explode. If one cell short-circuits and overheats, it's possible for the heat to spread and affect other cells.
But, before making a connection between Boeing's battery issues and passenger EVs, it's worth noting that the Dreamliner's lithium-ion batteries use different cathode materials than the batteries found on most electric cars. According to Green Car Reports, the cobalt oxide (CoO2) battery chemistry found on the Dreamliner "has the highest energy content, but it is also the most susceptible to overheating that can produce 'thermal events' (which is to say, fires)." The report goes on to note that the only other electric car to use cobalt oxide battery chemistry is the Tesla Roadster, which is no longer for sale.
Boeing's battery problem can be traced back to 2005, when Dreamliner engineering stages were still ongoing. At the time, only lithium-ion cells made of cobalt oxide (CoO2) were deemed air-worthy. Since then, the FAA has approved additional cathodes, including the safer lithium iron phosphate compound (LiFePO4). LiFePO4 batteries are being used by some EV manufacturers like Chinese automaker BYD, who claim their Fe batteries offer "excellent safety performance" because of the material.
Using cobalt oxide (CoO2) as a cathode material has begun to fall out of favor, as lithium iron phosphate, nickel, manganese and other metals have been found to be safer, although cannot offer the same capacity.