18 Jan '13, 3pm

Boeing's Battery-Fire Blues

Ever wonder why the space shuttle carried quaint computer systems from the days of visible transistors and perforated readout paper? The reason is reliability, which matters more than coolio capabilities when your life’s on the line. That’s why the designers of the Boeing 787 must have thought twice before putting coolio lithium-ion batteries into an airliner meant to carry up to 290 passengers. Maybe they should have thought a third time. This week a scary battery fire in one of the airliners, in Japan, sparked a worldwide grounding of the entire fleet. Nobody was hurt, but then again, the fires broke out when the airliner was on the ground. It seems that the batteries heated up in a self-accelerating pattern called thermal runaway . Heat from the production of electricity speeds up the production of electricity, and… you’re off. This sort of things happens in a variety o...

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/aviation/boe...

Tweets

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