Boeing’s Dreamliner’s lithium ion battery decision and current worries

An article in the New York Times (January 17,2013) describes the lithium ion batteries used in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and the current string of fires, as a crucial design element in the success of the airplane. The batteries increase the power generated and thus increase the range while decreasing fuel consumption. But the heat generated and possible fire impact have generated significant worries. Switching to more traditional nickel cadmium batteries would increase cost and weight. Trading down to less capacity batteries would decrease range of the airplanes and thus competitiveness. Providing more protection for the batteries themselves against fires would increase cost and weight. Given these worries, should Boeing stop production and generate a long term solution or think of a short term fix that keeps planes flying while developing a longer term efficient solution ? Since trading to a safer battery type would provide a solution while decreasing range, yet keep planes flying, should that be the quick fix or will it hurt the airplane’s competitiveness significantly enough to be infeasible ?

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About aviyer2010

Professor
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