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Power-User

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Lithium Ion Battery Fires

03/21/2014 3:33 PM

My understanding the Lithium Ion battery fires are the result of contamination during manufacturing. Small metal particles can puncture the separators allowing the battery to short and overheat. Is this true of new batteries? New batteries are discharged and have little or nothing to cause overheating. The Malaysian plane was in fact carrying some of these.

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#1

Re: Lithium Ion Battery Fires

03/21/2014 4:55 PM

Depends on the particular battery construction.

As I recall, the Boeing battery insulators were too thin to resist punctures and caused the fires. I think they re-designed them.

But, I've been wrong before.

I'd also think "in service" shorting would be more of a problem.

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Guru

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#2

Re: Lithium Ion Battery Fires

03/21/2014 5:01 PM

Not likely a factor do to new packing requirements....

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Lithium Ion Battery Fires

03/21/2014 5:57 PM

Thank you both. That is what I was able to dig out.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Lithium Ion Battery Fires

03/21/2014 11:08 PM

I have been dismantling lithium batteries to learn something. What is obvious is that the fast charging rate can produce excessive heat, especially in hot summer days. Every battery pack includes a multi chip complex temp sensor. Some packs have two sensors taped to the cell case inside the plastic case. I wish I could find details of how these work and regulate the charge rate. I suspect contaminated battery assemblies is the least of the causes. This is a manufacturing problem that is easy to control.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Lithium Ion Battery Fires

03/21/2014 11:45 PM

Reallydepends on construction. In the RC world we have been using lithium polymer batteries for quite some time. No chips or circuitry involved unless the battery is used in a transmitter where a wall wart would be applied.

Everything is taken care of by the charger being used. Key in your battery capacity and choose your charge rate (latest tech CAN handle a charge rate of 6C but in the quest for longevity most use 4C.

Fires are almost entirely caused by punctures, although charging at a very high rate can also cause fires. Overcharging is a serious problem however. In this case the cells will 'puff' up and rupture. Over discharge, or discharging past the performance of the battery cause the same problem.

These are mostly flight packs where the safety of a hard case is ditched in favor of less weight. RC cats use hard cased batteries though.

Like I said though, most fires are the result of a crash that damages the battery.

New batteries are charged to around 60 percent, and include a stableizer that prevents self discharge even more than usual (you can store a battery all year with minimal self discharge), and as the battery is used the performance generally increases, up to around 20 cycles before the internal resistance standardized.

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#6

Re: Lithium Ion Battery Fires

03/22/2014 2:41 AM

Are we discussing the onboard batteries used to supply equiment in the event of power failure, motor starting in Africa, or batteries as cargo?

The 777 has had VERY serious problems in this area of onboard batteries.....it was grounded completely for a time.....all of them.

Previous aircraft types used NICADS I believe, which had become really reliable, but did not have the power density, size & (lack of) weight needed for the 777.

According to what I have read, those problems have been fixed.......at least according to Boeing!!

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Lithium Ion Battery Fires

03/22/2014 7:11 AM

We use them on the pipe pig. Never had any problems but safety says i need a shield to protect the operators when charging.

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#9
In reply to #6

Re: Lithium Ion Battery Fires

03/24/2014 8:08 AM

Andy, I could be wrong but I believe it was the 787 that had the battery problems.

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Lithium Ion Battery Fires

03/24/2014 9:54 AM

You could well be right......thanks for the heads up......

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#8

Re: Lithium Ion Battery Fires

03/22/2014 12:29 PM

Thanks to all:

Seems as if Lithium Ion Cells as the cause are equivalent to the "Black Hole Theory" that has been "floated", or maybe sunk. Whatever Black Holes cause when you cross the event horizon.

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#11

Re: Lithium Ion Battery Fires

03/24/2014 12:17 PM

Lithium will burn in air. Or to say it more precisely, Lithium will oxidize very rapidly in the presence of oxygen. When you add water, it just makes it worse. Chemistry is fun!

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