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View Diary: Safety board may keep Boeing's heavily outsourced Dreamliner grounded for months (145 comments)

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  •  All new planes have kinks. (0+ / 0-)

    The li-ion batteries are the kind of bold move we need to see more of, not less.

    Somebody in this thread had a link to the story of the DeHavilland Comet, but that plane experienced 3 hull losses -- two of them fatal -- in it's first year of commercial operation.

    Far more Dreamliners have flown far more flights and far more miles without a single hull loss.

    I hope they find the root cause of the battery problems quickly and get the plane back into the air.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 02:13:12 PM PST

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    •  I'm a bit leery of li-ion batteries (9+ / 0-)

      We don't even really like to carry them as cargo.

      UPS lost a 747 not too long ago due to an inflight fire - probably caused by a shipment of li-ion batteries.

      Fire in flight is your worst nightmare.

      You have maybe 20 minutes to put it on the ground before the fire burns through something you need to fly the plane with.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 06:17:05 PM PST

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    •  Wrong kind of lithium-ion batteries! (8+ / 0-)

      So-called lithium-ion batteries actually are a family of several different types of chemistry, each of which shares lithium -- the most electrically reactive metal, and thus the one with the best energy density.  But the rest of the chemistry varies widely.  Lithium is tricky stuff to manage.

      Boeing chose to go with lithium-cobalt batteries, the ones with the highest energy density.  They're used in cell phones, where weight matters.  Trouble is, they're also inherently explosive, so you have to be very careful with them.  They're also not generally used for anything bigger than a laptop computer.  Electric cars use either nickel-metal-hydride batteries (old, proven, but heavier) or a different lithium chemisty.  The Chevy Volt uses lithium-manganese batteries; it's not quite as light as cobalt, but much lighter (per joule) than NiMH.  (The actual chemistry of the Volt batteries isn't public; it may be a manganese-cobalt-nickel mix.  But it's not explosive cobalt dioxide.)

      This decision was made by Boeing.  Then the went through a chain of suppliers to create the actual battery.  Lithium-cobalt batteries need very careful charge control electronics to stay safe, plus thermal sensors.  So one company (GS Yuasa) made the cells, another fabricated the batteries, and they outsourced the electronics to a Vietnamese factory, and a French company oversaw the whole electrical system.  Lots of finger-pointing will go on.

      I suspect the big problem now is that alternative battery chemistries, while safer, might not fit into the space set aside for the two big lithium-cobalt monsters now in each Dreamliner.

      •  Thanks for that informative post (0+ / 0-)

        There's so much going on here that almost any attempt to explain the situation, and predict the outcome, risks oversimplification.  

        I think I heard that a Chevy Volt battery caught fire five days after a car was test-crashed in the lab.  What might happen when GS Yuasu's Li-Co battery, trickier technology, is fitted in an aircraft which subsequently makes a hard, or not-so-hard landing?  

        Planning a vacation or convention in Arizona? Come to Palm Springs instead! Same desert weather, none of the smog, traffic and bigotry.

        by grey skies turning to blue on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 05:53:40 AM PST

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      •  Dreamliner Weight Objectives (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BroadwayBaby1, louisprandtl

        From the beginning of the program, Boeing had focused on keeping the structural weight of the Dreamliner as low as possible to maximize profits for the airlines.  Obviously, one way to do this was to opt for the a maximum energy density device to keep weight down and maximize space aboard the airframe.  Going back at this stage is simply going to reduce the hauling capacity for the airliner, because it will be carrying more weight in a larger space.  So, Boeing is going to be faced with the decision - take a hit on the negotiated contracts or face the prospect of having contracts cancelled outright because the plane isn't flying at all.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:45:20 AM PST

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