Saturday, February 08, 2014

The Dreamliner 787 and lithium batteries

On January 14, 2014, there was a minor incident involving a lithium battery on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Boeing confirms new 787 Dreamliner battery incident

The Financial Times noted

Nick Cunningham, analyst at Agency Partners, said lithium-ion batteries had “a tendency to overheat and catch fire unpredictably, which is never a welcome characteristic of anything used on board an aeroplane”.

But he said the energy density of these batteries – they can store considerably more electrical charge in a smaller and lighter package than alternative technologies – was important to Boeing.

This is because the Dreamliner relies more heavily on electrical power compared to previous aircraft, and the 787 needs batteries as back-up in the event of its generators failing.

Daily Finance had quoted Michel Armand, who has worked in lithium batteries for over 40 years:

Michel Armand, a professor of chemistry at the University of Picardie and a research director at the French government's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, told Barron's: "Using these batteries in planes makes no sense, with all the lives potentially at stake. These batteries are unpredictable and prone to thermal runaway and fires."

GS Yuasa makes the batteries for Boeing. As to patents related to the batteries, see
The Patents Behind the Plane.

For example Yuasa has US 7,393,476, with abstract:

A positive active material for lithium secondary batteries, includes a composite oxide including an oxide which is represented by the composite formula LixMnaNibCocO2 and has an α-NaFeO2 structure, and an impurity phase including Li2MnO3. The values a, b, and c are within such a range that in a ternary phase diagram showing the relationship among these, (a, b, c) is present on the perimeter of or inside the quadrilateral ABCD defined by point A (0.5, 0.5, 0), point B (0.55, 0.45, 0), point C (0.55, 0.15, 0.30), and point D (0.15, 0.15, 0.7) as vertexes, and 0.95


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