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Martin Murray

Transporting Lithium Batteries

By January 9, 2013

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Batteries Are Included The bad wrap that lithium batteries receive was further strengthened when a new 787 Dreamliner had a small on-board fire at Logan Airport in Boston. It was suspected that a lithium battery that was part of the auxiliary power unit, "exploded" after the passengers had left after a flight from Toyko. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it found "severe fire damage" in a rack of lithium-ion batteries in the electronics bay of the 787. The NTSB has been wary of the lithium ion batteries as they are significantly more susceptible to internal failures that can result in self-sustaining increases in temperature, more so than their nickel-cadmium or lead-acid batteries.

On January 1st the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) introduced stricter regulations for the bulk shipment of lithium batteries. As the batteries are more likely to heat up and catch fire, the regulations now subject to additional labeling, packaging and documentation requirements. The batteries are suspected to being a factor in the crash of two planes; Asiana Airlines 747-400 off South Korea, in July 2011, and a UPS 747-400 in September 2010 in Dubai.

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Comments

January 14, 2013 at 10:47 am
(1) Lilly Duff says:

This does not make me feel safe getting on one of those new 787 dreamliners. I know there is a NTSB investigation, but those recommendations come out years after any incident.

January 14, 2013 at 3:43 pm
(2) Jon Albinson says:

This is very worrying. In fact this whole Dreamliner is very worrying. I read in the Guardian that there have been fuel leaks, electrical distribution issues, brake issues, windscreen issues, as well as the whole lithium battery problems. Not very happy about flying in one of these at the moment. Maybe in a years time when all the teething issues have been sorted out.

January 14, 2013 at 4:55 pm
(3) Danni Marek says:

I found this online about the lithium battery. If the battery gets hot through use or recharging, the pieces of metal can move around. If a piece of metal gets too close to the separator, it can puncture the separator and cause a short circuit. If it creates a spark, the flammable liquid can ignite, causing a fire. If it causes the temperature inside the battery to rise rapidly, the battery can explode due to the increased pressure. If it causes the temperature to rise slowly, the battery can melt, and the liquid inside can leak out.
These scenarios are not ones I want to happen when I am on a flight. Boeing, please fix this ASAP.

January 14, 2013 at 7:24 pm
(4) Sol Dziedzic says:

Why did Boeing use lithium batteries if it is well known that these things get hot and potentially explode. Sounds a bit odd to me.

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