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Thu Feb 7, 2013, 01:13 PM

Will Boeing’s 787 Battery Issues Ground Electric Vehicles, Too?

Will Boeing’s 787 Battery Issues Ground Electric Vehicles, Too?
Ryan Matley
Consultant
February 4, 2013

Boeing has made big news in recent weeks, but for all the wrong reasons. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded Boeing’s flagship airplane, the fuel-efficient, next generation 787 Dreamliner. The problem isn’t its innovative carbon fiber construction, but rather a less heralded technologic leap: lithium ion batteries. In the span of one week a battery caught fire while a plane was at the gate in Boston and another forced an emergency landing and evacuation in Japan when it overheated. This marks the first grounding of an airplane type since the DC-10 in 1979.

Inevitably, news stories appeared connecting the 787’s battery troubles to past laptop battery fires and electric vehicles (EVs), reflexively highlighting the 2011 Chevy Volt fire that occurred following crash testing.

...Unlike electronics and aerospace batteries, electric vehicles do not use LiCoO2 chemistry, specifically because of its safety concerns. (Some 2,500 early Tesla Roadsters used LiCoO2 batteries designed with multiple safeguards, but the company has since switched to batteries with more stable chemistries.) Automakers have intentionally traded less energy density for better safety and lower cost (cobalt is expensive). Most electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids on the road use a lithium-manganese-spinel (LiMn2O4) chemistry. Some are adding a nickel-manganese-cobalt chemistry developed at Argonne National Lab to increase energy density.

...Does more stable lithium ion chemistry combined with the robust design of automotive batteries mean a 787-style battery meltdown will never occur in an EV? Of course not. The precise reason that lithium-ion batteries are used—their high energy density—increases the odds of a sudden energy release (aka fire). But that doesn’t mean electric vehicles are any less safe than internal combustion vehicles. For the last one hundred years cars have been carrying around gasoline, which has more than twice the energy density of lithium ion. Automakers have been able to minimize, but not eliminate (see the Ford Pinto) the risk of fire due to fuel leaks. In fact, I might prefer the on-road safety record of current automotive lithium-ion batteries, which have had zero reported fires in over 500 million miles driven. By comparison, gasoline vehicles have averaged nearly 65,000 vehicle fires that caused 300 fatalities per year between 2008 and 2010.


http://blog.rmi.org/blog_2013_02_04_Will_Boeings_787_Battery_Issues_Ground_Electric_Vehicles

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Reply Will Boeing’s 787 Battery Issues Ground Electric Vehicles, Too? (Original post)
kristopher Feb 2013 OP
Fumesucker Feb 2013 #1
OKIsItJustMe Feb 2013 #2
tinrobot Feb 2013 #3
kristopher Feb 2013 #5
quadrature Feb 2013 #4

Response to kristopher (Original post)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 01:24 PM

1. Here's an interesting paragraph from your link

There is a history of lithium ion batteries catching fire in electronics. A spate of fires resulted in the recall of millions of lithium ion batteries for laptops in 2006 and again in 2008. The cause was tiny shards of metal introduced in the manufacturing process that short circuited cells. Even more troubling, lithium ion batteries have been implicated in, but not proven to cause, two fatal cargo plane accidents in the last seven years: a UPS 747 and an Asiana 747. Each flight was carrying shipments of lithium ion batteries and suffered fires that originated in the cargo hold. The incidents at the heart of the 787’s grounding are not even the first problems the program has faced with lithium-ion batteries. A sub-contractor’s facility where they designed and manufactured battery-charging electronics for the 787 program burned down while testing a battery. The cause was an improper test setup, but the scale of the damage highlights the risks in the technology.

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 02:59 PM

2. Of course, risks are relative

A large battery pack, of any type represents a great deal of stored energy, which can potentially cause a fire.

Today’s typical car drives around with a 12 volt lead-acid battery, which under the right conditions can explode. (One way to do this is to overcharge them.)


There have been a small number of notorious battery fires linked with Electric Vehicles, (for example the Volt fire where a car was crashed, as part of a safety test, the battery pack left connected, and three weeks later a fire started.) Does anyone seriously think the odds of an EV catching fire are higher than the odds of a gasoline-powered car doing the same?

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/Autos/story?id=1207557&page=1
New Warning to be Issued About Deadly Car Fires

ORLANDO, Fla., Oct. 12, 2005

AAA and the National Fire Protection Association will issue a warning tomorrow about car fires, ABC News has learned. Last year, 266,000 car fires resulted in 520 deaths, the organizations say.

"It was a horrible explosion," said car fire victim Bob Aymar, who, in less than a minute, suffered third degree burns on his face, hand and arm. He was sprayed by a gasoline fireball during a violent traffic accident on a Southern California freeway.

"The Bronco behind me was hit so hard that it ruptured the gas tank," said Aymar, who, after seven surgeries, was finally able to play the piano again.

He is just one of more than 1,300 car fire victims every year. According to the NFPA, cars catch fire on American highways once every two minutes.

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 06:08 PM

3. Sorry, I'm still not afraid of electric vehicles.

Nice try, though.


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Response to tinrobot (Reply #3)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 05:26 AM

5. You've experienced a reading comprehension failure

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 06:23 PM

4. cobalt...worst possible choice .nt

nt

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