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Fri Jan 25, 2013, 08:42 AM

Whistleblower Says Dreamliner Batteries Could ‘Explode’

Source: CNBC

"These lithium-ion batteries are heat intolerant. Too much heat on those things, they will go into a thermal runaway, they will explode, it will be a nightmare," he said.

Michael Leon was a senior engineering technician at Securaplane in 2006 conducting tests for the charging units that work with the lithium-ion batteries in the Dreamliner. Leon said what happened one day is a scene he will never forget.

"My BCU wasn't running and this lithium-ion battery just decided to explode," said Leon. "The magnitude of energy that came out of this battery, I cannot quantify it. I ran out of there and armed myself with 30 pounds of Halon and I ran back into the inferno. By then all the walls were on fire."

The fire at Securaplane in 2006 was well documented at the time. Boeing said it was the result of a test set up improperly, and it was not a case where a lithium-ion battery simply exploded for no reason.



Read more: http://www.cnbc.com/id/100406310

24 replies, 2841 views

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Reply Whistleblower Says Dreamliner Batteries Could ‘Explode’ (Original post)
Celebration Jan 2013 OP
Indydem Jan 2013 #1
global1 Jan 2013 #2
Celebration Jan 2013 #3
naaman fletcher Jan 2013 #13
Blue_Tires Jan 2013 #18
loudsue Jan 2013 #4
IDemo Jan 2013 #6
loudsue Jan 2013 #9
geomon666 Jan 2013 #5
IDemo Jan 2013 #8
Indydem Jan 2013 #10
gateley Jan 2013 #15
Indydem Jan 2013 #17
Paulie Jan 2013 #11
pipoman Jan 2013 #7
MannyGoldstein Jan 2013 #12
jsr Jan 2013 #14
pipoman Jan 2013 #16
AtheistCrusader Jan 2013 #19
JDPriestly Jan 2013 #20
SCVDem Jan 2013 #21
Mabnat Jan 2013 #22
Rhiannon12866 Jan 2013 #24
cbrer Jan 2013 #23

Response to Celebration (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 08:50 AM

1. If Tesla, GM, and Nissan can do it, so can Boeing.

It's just a configuration glitch. This will all work itself out in short order.

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Response to Celebration (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 08:51 AM

2. So Is Boeing's Dreamliner A Lemon & Will People Avoid Flying It Or....

will it be fixed or corrected and become a standard in the industry?

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Response to global1 (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:02 AM

3. hopefully the latter

But they seem mystified about the cause of the problem.

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Response to global1 (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:51 AM

13. I fly a lot

 

I can't wait to get on one.

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Response to global1 (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:51 AM

18. It's fine

They will fix the issue, get it recertified, and have a long, productive service life

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Response to Celebration (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:06 AM

4. Who makes that battery? Is that a Boeing product? Who is the manufacturer?

That's where the problem is.

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Response to loudsue (Reply #4)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:22 AM

6. GS Yuasa

Maker of fine motorcycle batteries.

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Response to IDemo (Reply #6)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:36 AM

9. Japanese Company.

Shit. We need to bring manufacturing back to the USA and put UNION people back in charge of making stuff.

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Response to Celebration (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:11 AM

5. This guy doesn't seem to have much credibility.

Just saying.

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Response to geomon666 (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:29 AM

8. I tend to agree, to an extent

If "BCU wasn't running" means Battery Control Unit (more often referred to as BMS, or Battery Management System), then the circuitry and logic required to monitor and control the battery's charge state wasn't running correctly, and too many Amp Hours made it into the battery. In which case, the fault would lie with the BCU/BMS, not the battery.

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Response to IDemo (Reply #8)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:36 AM

10. Precisely.

Replace the part, or upgrade it's firmware.

Not a big deal.

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Response to Indydem (Reply #10)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:56 AM

15. But the article is saying that they are baffled as to the cause of

the problem -- it sounds like it MIGHT be a big deal.

Once they identify it, I assume you're right. But it's worrisome they don't know just what problem to address.

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Response to gateley (Reply #15)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:12 AM

17. Well people far smarter than I

Are working on it. It's essentially a hybrid plane, from what I understand.

They'll get it worked out.

New technologies (and this thing really is a leap forward) have bumps in the road.

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Response to geomon666 (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:47 AM

11. Agree. Can't quantify the energy released?

Battery holds so many joules plus the overload sounds quite quantifiable.

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Response to Celebration (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:29 AM

7. This reminds me of the

exploding lithium batteries in tactical flashlights..I learned a long time ago to never buy Chinese lithium 123A batteries because they don't have a safety feature which keeps them from overheating and exploding...bet Boeing is putting cheap Chinese batteries in these planes..they seem to love Chinese attention to detail in every other area of their manufacturing..

Fountain Valley, CA -- SureFire, LLC, designer and manufacturer of high-end
flashlights, cautions against the purchase and use of substandard quality lithium
batteries with SureFire or any other applicable products.

There have been several reports of lithium 123A batteries exploding, venting, or catching
fire in various brands of flashlights. These incidents have been traced back to the use of
substandard quality, imported, and/or counterfeit batteries typically made in China (or
marked “PRC”) usually purchased from an online reseller. These batteries are not
manufactured to the same quality standards as SureFire brand batteries and do not
have the engineered safety features that are vital to averting these types of dangerous
events. Not all cases of exploding batteries have been the lithium type, but this warning
should be viewed by all users of battery-powered devices.

On March 1, 2008 imported substandard quality lithium batteries combusted inside of a
flashlight that was attached to the duty belt of a police officer. Due to the officer’s quick
actions, he avoided injury and only sustained damage to his uniform. Imported
substandard quality batteries caused the explosion, not the flashlight. These
substandard quality batteries were purchased from an unknown online source and were
not made in the U.S.A. like SureFire brand batteries. SureFire recommends that
consumers avoid purchasing and using foreign-made lithium 123A batteries, especially
batteries marked “PRC” or “Made in China”.

http://www.surefireinstitute.com/images/pdfs/battery_warnings/1.pdf


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Response to pipoman (Reply #7)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:48 AM

12. You're absolutely right about cheap lithium batteries being grenades waiting to go off

But the 787 batteries are high-end, from Yuasa in Japan.

That being said, I'm betting that the problem *is* in the battery - I'm guessing it's a custom battery that's doing something not done before, and variations in chemistry or physical construction are causing these issues.

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Response to Celebration (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:53 AM

14. From the start, Dreamliner jet program was rushed:

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AP_US_DREAMLINER_DIFFICULTIES?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-01-25-03-32-34

Even before a single bolt was tightened, the Dreamliner was different. Because executives didn't want to risk all of the billions of dollars necessary to build a new commercial aircraft, they came up with a novel, but precarious, solution.

A global network of suppliers would develop, and then build, most of the parts in locations as far away as Germany, Japan and Sweden. Boeing's own employees would manufacture just 35 percent of the plane before assembling the final aircraft at its plant outside Seattle.

The decision haunts Boeing to this day.

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Response to jsr (Reply #14)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 10:08 AM

16. Yep..

they failed to mention China, which is likely the biggest supplier of parts. Boeing closing their Wichita facilities, coincidentally simultaneous to their opening of the Chinese facility, will result in substandard construction for years to come. In past years, several major systems groups were made in Wichita by people who took pride in what they did and maintained outstanding quality control. Boeing opted for cheap labor....some things, you just get what you pay for..this is one of those times..

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Response to pipoman (Reply #16)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 11:22 AM

19. These batteries and subcomponents are from a high quality manufacturer in Japan.

They are not from China.

Edit: Yausa makes the battery in my KLR650, there are none finer. I can't imagine their commercial Li-ion batteries are lower quality than their lead-acid gel packs for offroad bikes.

Edit2: The US Army and Marines use the same battery in the same bike (diesel version). They don't have a reputation for making shitty batteries.

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Response to pipoman (Reply #16)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 11:23 AM

20. You couldn't have said it more clearly. From clothes-drying racks to batteries,

same story.

Made in America is the best. We should go back to making things in America.

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Response to Celebration (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 11:55 AM

21. Just needs one more button.

Eject the core Mr Scott!

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Response to Celebration (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 01:10 AM

22. Used to work at Securaplane

This wasn't the first time that this company started a fire on an airplane. I used to have to repair and try to determine the root cause of the failures that caused their chargers (and battery packs) to catch fire. No joke, I used to have to open up one of these charred boxes almost every week. Hated the smell...

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Response to Mabnat (Reply #22)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 03:40 AM

24. Thanks for sharing your experience...

And welcome to DU, Mabnat! It's great to have you with us!

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Response to Celebration (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 02:03 AM

23. Ummm, Halon works by

 

Evacuating the oxygen out of the air to "suffocate" a fire.

If this guy ran into a burning room with 30 lb.s of the stuff, I have to wonder if he had an independent breathing apparatus, or what??

And I have to believe that the charging and temperature monitoring systems on this plane are at least doubly redundant. If not tripled.

LIon batteries are sensitive though. That level of performance comes at a cost.

Cheers!

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