Boeing’s webcast from Japan on 787 battery fix

Here is the PDF presentation.

Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Mike Fleming, VP and Chief Engineer for EIS of the 787 and Mike Sinnett, vice president and chief project engineer for the Boeing 787, provided an update on the battery fix during a visit to Japan today (or tomorrow, Japan time….)

The webcast will be archived.

Here is a running brief of comments:

RC Ray Conner

MF Mike Fleming

MS Mike Sinnett

RC: US FAA has a comprehensive process we must follow to get airplanes into the air for testing and for re-EIS.

We’re here this week to discuss our solution and to take feedback from Japanese authorities, The solution is the result of thousands of hours of tests within Boeing and with other agencies.

We acknowledge the work of the Japanese regulators and GSD Yuasa and have been a tremendous partner throughout this process. I speak for the 170,000 employees of Boeing when we say that the safety of our product is the #1 priority of the company, ahead of everything else we do.

We have three layers of solutions and we are confident these are the right ones.

MS: (Going through the PDF slides linked above.) We understand that we do not have a business if we don’t have safety. Safety is the number one thing we think of in designing an airplane.

With 100 years of experience, we apply these lessons to each new airplane. We stand behind the integrity of each Boeing airplane.

The battery is only a backup in flight. It operates on the ground. The 787 is an electric jet, using two generators in combination producing one megawatt of electrical power. The APU also has two generators associated with it.

If in the unlikely event all generators and batteries fail, the Ram Air Turbine deploys. We don’t need the main battery in flight or the APU battery in flight for safety. The batteries operate the brakes on the ground and other ground-based functions.

The Li-Ion batteries technology was already mature technology for many applications, including aerospace (not commercial aerospace).

[Note: Bombardier reached a different conclusion, telling us that in 2009 when it had to make a decision on batteries that it was not satisfied with the Li-Ion technology, and therefore selected nickel-cadium.)

Li-Ion technology earned its way on to the 787.

We work very hard to design a system that will not fail Then we assume it will fail and provide redundancies or backups. We apply this design philosophy to every system on the airplane.

This is a core, fundamental design philosophy for the company. No single failure can put at risk the flight.

How do JAL and ANA square with this?

First no major structure was damaged. Minor damage in the surrounding area in JAL. No collateral damage in ANA. Widely reported there were fire, flames and an explosion. The factual report concluded there was two small flames on JAL and no fire on ANA.

The batteries vented as designed. When these vent, it looks like smoke. It is true it propagated from one cell to another but there was no fire.

Damage was limited to the function of the battery and the immediate area of the battery, but the aircraft was not at risk.

There has been significant attention to the term thermal runaway.  You can have what some call thermal runaway from one cell to another. What we worry about is when there is so much energy it puts the airplane at risk. This was not the case with JAL or ANA.

The only thing that can lead to thermal runaway is over-charging. These were not over-charged. We know this from the investigation.

We are very confident we have never seen over-charging in the fleet.

When this first happened, Boeing responded immediately. We work with our partners and suppliers, but at the end of the day, it is the Boeing name on the side of the airplane.

I can tell you quite honestly we all worked as one team to understand what happened and to make sure it never happens again.

We brought in Boeing people responsible for the Space station and throughout the company. By the end of the first week we had 500 engineers working on this. By the end of the second and third week we drew on people outside Boeing: auto manufacturers, universities, elsewhere.

At this point, we have more than 200,000 hours of analysis, designs and tests to understand what has happened.

There are three layers of protection (shown on PDF page 11 of the slide show). We’ve also changed the battery charging unit and the voltage coming into the battery, reducing the amount of voltage going into the battery.

We’ve also changed the design of the battery to make it more robust. We’ve made other changes to theb attery charger and created a battery enclosure.

We wrapped the battery cells to make sure short circuits can’t go from one cell to another. We added drain holes to be sure moisture gets out. We’ve given the battery better heat resistance.

We’ve made changes to the battery charger as well to better protect the battery from deep discharges.

The enclosure keeps us from having a fire in the first place. This is very, very important. It also contains the venting and directs venting overboard. Flight crew never gets a warning message telling them they need to divert. This also protects the electronics bay from heat or venting.

We’ve been testing this design features for six weeks. It can withstand more than three times the pressure we ever expect to see in a battery event. We have more than 60,000 hours in tests on this design.

We now have our Go-Forward Plan to prove design to the FAA and get the airplanes back into the air.

I often get asked if the airplane is still safe. I say absolutely. It is the safest airplane we have ever produced. I will gladly have my wife and family fly on this airplane. I have flown on it more than 100 times.

Our team took our original design assumptions about how a battery could fail and added new assumptions. We took original fault tree and added new ones, even if unlikely. We took 80 potential things that could lead to battery failure and worked to address all these.

We looked at all of these and came up with a comprehensive set of solutions. We looked at all the forensic evidence coming off both airplanes.

Q&A:

MS: The enclosure has very little air in it. When electrolytes occur, the valves open and sent venting overboard. There is not sufficient oxygen to materially contribute to combustion. As long as we keep oxygen out of enclosure, you can’t have a fire.

Our certification plan has been approved by the FAA. We need one flight to prove elements. Laboratory testing is extensive. That began a week ago. It will take weeks.

RC: intent is to bring the fleet up first, then go to production. (But he didn’t give a timeline.)

MS: We may never get to the root cause, but the process to address many possible things gives us greater confidence than before. I don’t have questions now. We have made significant improvements across the board.

If there is an 81st or an 82nd issue, we know that at the airplane level it can land.

I can assure that the new battery fire eliminates all risk of fire. We’ve minimize potential ignition sources and elminated potential oxygen sources. If a cell fails, I am very very confident we will not have a fire.

Are we confident there will never, ever be another battery failure? The answer is that parts fail. But we are sure there won’t be serious events. With other batteries in use, there have been thousands and thousands of battery events, but there will be safe flight.

RC: All of our conversations with customers are confidential (question is about compensation).

RC: Customers in general, across the board have been extremely supportive and patient with us. They are looking forward to returning to flight.

MS: The 787 has more “get-home” capability than any plane we have built. (The redundancies permit this.) the only way the battery can harm the airplane is thermal runaway. The thermal runaway discussed [to date] is limited to the battery but it did not threaten the airplane.

53 comments on “Boeing’s webcast from Japan on 787 battery fix

  1. geeze – still on the bit about the ONLY cause of failure is overcharging ?? despite claims that that did not happen??

    and only ONE flight to check out new system ??

    Nothing about rapid turnaround cycles re charge- discharge and apu start cycles, etc

  2. Slide 8 of the PDF is really asking for trouble:
    Line 1: “The only possible reason is overcharging”
    Line 3: “No overcharging occurred in either event”
    So the problems could not have happened…

    I think what they are saying is that it were defective batteries and GSD Yuasa’s problem, without pointing the finger to Yuasa because they are presenting it in Japan.

    • reading elsewhere in then last few weeks- there is mention of rap[id changes from charge to discharge which seem odd. even without exceeding limits, it might be possible for that cycle to do more damage than realized. How that happens is a question I’ve wondered-speculated about.

      afe they running such rapid ( within seconds ) charge discharge charge discharge cycles ?

      Who knows ??

      • Loads management is done by software. Yet software has not been mentioned as a possible root cause in any of the investigation reports.

      • There be dragons!

        apropos no oxygen:
        thermal runaway produces oxygen from the ?deflagrating? cell components. The “bubbly” is driven by boiling electrolyte and
        nascend oxygen.

        To summ it up: a premeditated misleading smoke and mirrors show.
        Where is the US Trade representative currently?
        Busy creating pressure from the backside ?

    • Interesting comparison between Airbus – 787- and 777 re Iron Bird- but bloomberg missed that a sort of iron bird was used on 747.

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-14/airbus-s-iron-bird-seeks-to-avoid-787-s-ruffled-feathers.html

      extracts

      …About half of a modern aircraft’s value lies in systems that control everything from the movement of wing surfaces to landing gear and braking. The iron-bird approach has helped Airbus identify multiple improvements to hardware and software, now incorporated into equipment on the test bench, according to Mark Cousin, head of system-integration tests for the A350.

      In one case, the plane’s landing-gear doors failed to open smoothly, a malfunction that was fixed by changing the time delay between releasing the hatches and applying the hydraulic pressure required to open them, he said. …


      Boeing has similar test facilities, though it didn’t use an iron bird until the early 1990s for assessment of the 777. Prior to that, avionics, engine and flight controls and mechanical, electrical and hydraulic systems got their first integrated workout only during ground testing of the actual plane.

      For the Dreamliner, Boeing didn’t build an iron bird, and instead created a “virtual” plane spread out among labs connected to one another via computer. That allowed engineers greater integration with the far-flung network of suppliers.

      The A350 iron bird paid special attention to lithium-ion batteries like those that failed on the 787, which Airbus, too, had planned to use. Though the test bed didn’t reveal any problems, the company decided to switch to more traditional nickel cadmium battery packs to avoid the risk of program delay. ..

      Now play that against

      The ONLY method of thermal runaway is OVERCHARGING …. but NO overcharging has been found on ANY of the fleet . . .

      Yep nothing could possibly have gone wrong gone wrong gone wrong . . .

      • Virtual tesing is Powerpoint Ranger’s favorite. To them it suggests that it is feasible to virtually assemble, test and fly the aircraft concurrently with development, thus shortening the schedule and reducing certification to simply ticking off test items defined concurrently with requirements definition. All of this tool-based, of course.

        But…

        Virtual testing is based on simulation. Simulation is based on a model. A model is only an approximation of the truth. A model cannot be fully representative of the truth.

        OTOH, an iron bird cannot replicate thermal cycling, full flight motion. Vibration, pressure cycling and changing levels of humidity would be very expensive to test at full iron bird level. Moreover, the test setup may be based on incomplete or outright false assumptions.

        Iron birds and virtual testing should be employed to facilitate more testing beyond real flight tests and explore test space where ‘real’ testing would be too dangerous or prohibitively expensive. Virtual Reality and simulation should not be seen as a means to obviate the need of full-scale testing of the real product.

      • Boeing seems to have done only fully “virtual” checks.

        The newer simulation modeling links components via computer linkage /simulation.
        You can test modules standalone, in interaction with a simulation or in interaction with the other real parts. Easy injection of faults.
        IMHO quite an improvement for exposing issues in an environment of exponentially rising complexity.

  3. First no major structure was damaged. Minor damage in the surrounding area in JAL. No collateral damage in ANA. Widely reported there were fire, flames and an explosion. The factual report concluded there was two small flames on JAL and no fire on ANA.

    The batteries vented as designed. When these vent, it looks like smoke. It is true it propagated from one cell to another but there was no fire.

    Damage was limited to the function of the battery and the immediate area of the battery, but the aircraft was not at risk.

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-01-08/news/chi-dreamliner-fuel-leak-second-incident-in-2-days-20130108_1_fuel-leak-electrical-fire-power-or-engine-fire

    Better tell the NTSB. Smells like rewriting history. There was fire and reports from the JAL incident, the time it took to get the fire under control on the ground (90 min) and the colleteral damage (second battery) suggest the aircraft was at risk.

  4. Single most effective measure will be the reduction of final charge levels and other tweaking of the charger software.
    ( If you reduce capacity of a cell via undercharge damage any computed as correct for the capacity charge will result in an effective overcharge )

    will they reach 1/10e6h failure rate with these measures?

  5. Mike Sinnett (at 26:35 in the video): “By the end of the first week (after the first event) we had 500 engineers dedicated to understanding what happened in the battery and to try to find ways to ensure it never happens again.

    Ray Conner just the other day: “After events, put together 200 engineers. Have done 200,000 hours of analysis”.

    Perhaps the good folks at Boeing Communications might have wanted to better coordinate “number of engineers used”…. ;-)

  6. Oh I am very disappointed.

    The presentation is a PR-laden fluff piece full of happy conclusions.

    And as others have said, slide 8 is simply a joke. Only cause of failure is overcharging (no it bloody isn’t!), they say there was no overcharging ergo there can’t have been a failure. Please tell me it wasn’t a senior engineer who put that piece of “logic” together…

        • Looks like it’s the white-painted box to the right of the enclosure.

          Well if the enclosure does its job (which I’m inclined to accept) then that shouldn’t be a problem. Shorter leads between charger and battery should reduce the chance of various unwanted electrical effects.

          I notice much heftier grounding this time, as well.

      • if the box is totally enclosed with a burst diaphram on the top, then where does the moisture in drain holes in the bottom go to ?

        How does the moisture exit ? Or does it just recirculate as it again heats and cools ?

        Or maybe, every x hours pilot is required to so a very slow roll, hit pressure button to burst diaphram and dump it out ?

        or does the ground grew have to do a ‘ blood draw ” suction thru a special check valve or spigot ??

        But wait- since there was NO overcharging, there was no problem, and the whole thing was just smoke and mirrors ??

        • Ha ha ha! :D

          I must admit, I’m a bit baffled by the moisture thing as well. It sounds like moisture can drain from holes in the (moderately) updated battery casing, but will then pool inside the enclosure since the exhaust pipe is mounted high at the back.

          But if the enclosure is hermetically sealed (and the battery casing isn’t), then the same water will keep cycling through evaporation and condensation due to ground/air/ground temperature changes. Doesn’t that mean moisture effects will occur exactly as before?

      • Apropos:
        why is the internal design show off (ppp2.jpg) in Randy’s blog the near identical ( only scaled down, some cutouts in isolation panels missing ) drawing that was shown on the updates site as “787 batteryparts.jpg” ?

        Do we see increasing carelessness in presentations?
        ahh. easy answer:

        The exact same cheap battery box sits in the bomb calorimeter thingy. all connections get extension cords to the outside.
        See the ppp7.jpg image.
        so the changes are drainholes in a plastic platter, taping up the busbars and a lot of PR.

    • I don’t have a problem with lab tests in general (it’s part of what I do) but in this case, with statements like “only possible through overcharging” I have to question if they will be testing to prove their foregone conclusions instead of actually investigating possible causes. With only one physical test flight, I have to expect more problems to crop up in service.

      • Having left the realms of reality Boeing again is far ahead of everyone else.
        How far is the next “quarterly” away?

  7. Are these guys for real, or are they whistling past the graveyard? Even to a non-engineer like me this presentation is an utter joke. So there was never a problem, but we addressed it anyway. And I guess the bit about pilots not getting diversion messages is supposed to get them ETOPS330, right? The plane maybe should divert, but we just won’t tell the pilot.

    • Elsewhere on how to fortify your “facts”:
      “Neither the Smithsonian Institution or its successors, nor any museum or other agency, bureau or facilities administered for the United States of America by the Smithsonian Institution or its successors shall publish or permit to be displayed a statement or label in connection with or in respect of any aircraft model or design of earlier date than the Wright Aeroplane of 1903, claiming in effect that such aircraft was capable of carrying a man under its own power in controlled flight.”

      Chapeau, Brilliant! ( and see the similarities ?)

  8. “The enclosure keeps us from having a fire in the first place. This is very, very important. It also contains the venting and directs venting overboard. Flight crew never gets a warning message telling them they need to divert.”
    That is far from reassuring.

    “I often get asked if the airplane is still safe. I say absolutely. It is the safest airplane we have ever produced. I will gladly have my wife and family fly on this airplane. I have flown on it more than 100 times.”
    He sure does get around doesn’t he?

    “I can assure that the new battery fire eliminates all risk of fire. We’ve minimize potential ignition sources and elminated potential oxygen sources. If a cell fails, I am very very confident we will not have a fire.”

    “The enclosure has very little air in it. When electrolytes occur, the valves open and sent venting overboard. There is not sufficient oxygen to materially contribute to combustion. As long as we keep oxygen out of enclosure, you can’t have a fire.”
    So is this supposed to be a fire containtment box or a fire prevention box?
    Cessna’s box also contains explosions. I assume Boeing’s doesn’t need to as there will be no flames and hence no reason for an explosion. Or will there be?

    “At this point, we have more than 200,000 hours of analysis, designs and tests to understand what has happened.”
    So how come they never explain what happened? Oh, right. They still don’t know.

    Form the original presentation phase, “We’ve been testing this design features for six weeks. It can withstand more than three times the pressure we ever expect to see in a battery event. We have more than 60,000 hours in tests on this design.”
    From the Q&A session, “Laboratory testing is extensive. That began a week ago. It will take weeks.”
    So which is it, testing for 6 weeks now or just starting last week?

    “We may never get to the root cause, but the process to address many possible things gives us greater confidence than before. I don’t have questions now.”
    That is disturbing.

    “Damage was limited to the function of the battery and the immediate area of the battery, but the aircraft was not at risk.”
    Of course the damage was limited, the Boston fire department was on it pretty quicky and “only” needed 100 minutes to get the battery out of the aircraft so it couldn’t do more damage. Does this mean part of their new redesign is to have a team of firefighters on every Dreamliner?

    Had anybody sent this material on to Jon Stewart? This stuff is too good to be true.

  9. I would still dearly like to know when they had started the process that allowed them to redesign, manufacture and ship a new battery to Seattle last week.
    The fleet was grounded just over 8 weeks ago (January 16). That must be close to a miracle even if they had started redesigning on the very first day of the grounding, whihc would mean 7 weeks from start of redesign to on dock in Seattle.

    • They’ve had a small group of machinist working on it for a couple of weeks.
      With a small compact group of people I see no reason to need more than 4 weeks.
      ( I’ve done a set of prototype enclosures in that style and in that kind of timeframe.)
      My guess is you then won’t have a useable papertrail to acompany this and it seems to very much represent the famed Boeing way.

  10. Let’s not forget that Mike said that unless something happened with the unique test flight, re-certification and commercial flights were a done deal, including no ETOPS limitation. I’d like to know the FAA level of involvement in this process.

  11. ALSO – supposedly the life cycle of Li-ion batteries is long- thousands of cycles –

    then why so many replacements in a year ???

    Yep- as everyone gathered at the bar afterwords with high 5’s – the ultimate verbal rewards were ‘ great pitch- neat power points, good job “

  12. There are troubling issues with this Li ion Battery and the 3/14/2013 Sinnett Boeing P-R charts.

    One is the overcharging issue and whether the battery cells were receiving the same voltage and rate of current change that was being monitored and prior reports from the Battery maker that overcharging as being the only potential cause of the cells to fail while the charger guys are happy reporting that “it wasn’t us” and now we have Boeing making a passing reference to a change? in what contitutes a charge and the 4 independant circuits preventing said overcharge (slide # 8) which found no evidence of it but we’ve got to fix it anyway (slide # 14). What did I miss?

    Another issue is whether or not the JAL battery caught fire, and Mr Sinnett’s interpretation of those events (slide # 7), which seem at odds with the NTSB’s analysis of that battery from the JAL event, leading to the question of what’s a fire anyway? and the minimal damage to the airframe within 20 inches of the Battery as a result of 2 small? flames thanks to Boston’s finest efforts in spite of the molten removal knob and dense vapor/smoke and flying debris which injured a first responder. Maybe they should put seats next to the APU Battery with a handy shelf for marsmallows and weiners set for roasting reserved for Mike. ps I know what a fire is, having been in one, but I submit I may need retraining.

    Now to the sciences aspect of this flying chemistry set and whether there is any concern about poor quality in the cell build process and how to detect poor quality and the comprehensive solution (slide # 12); also the unspoken issue of the potential for dendrite formation when using this cathode, anode and electrolyte combination made an issue when using thin perforated separator membranes; also the potentially significant ‘continuing quality’ issues and how to assure no problems in the next Billion Battery flight hours! But thank god you got that ‘added battery enclosure’ and flame tube (slide # 15). Boy that feature will catch on with the hot-rod guys, you might want to patent it guys).

    As someone who’s has many Big-B man-years under my belt, I felt unease with this presentation and it’s unscientific response to what is really a petre dish experiment gone horribly wrong.

    • Lots of missing pieces in this puzzle. Also it looks like the pieces
      have been carefully altered to fit together presenting a false image.
      But what a beautifull arrangement!

    • About the NO fire per MIKE

      from bloomberg

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-15/ntsb-contradicts-boeing-claim-of-no-fire-in-787-battery.html?cmpid=yhoo

      NTSB Contradicts Boeing Claim of No Fire in 787 Battery
      By Alan Levin – Mar 15, 2013 10:24 AM PT

      Boeing Co. (BA)’s assertion that U.S. investigators ruled out a fire within the battery case of a Japan Airlines Co. (9201) 787 is premature, a National Transportation Safety Board spokesman said.

      Investigators examining the Jan. 7 fire aboard the Dreamliner in Boston haven’t ruled out that flames erupted within the lithium-ion battery container, Peter Knudson said today in response to questions about the issue.

      The 787, Boeing’s most sophisticated jet, has been grounded worldwide since Jan. 16 after the JAL incident and a battery overheated on a second Dreamliner in Japan. While the battery aboard the All Nippon Airways Co. (9202) smoked and was charred, it didn’t erupt in flames.

      Boeing’s proposed changes to the battery were approved for testing by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration March 12, the first step toward getting the plane back in the air. The FAA approved Boeing’s plan even though the safety board hasn’t found the cause of the JAL incident. Boeing officials said today in Tokyo they expect the plane to be flying again within weeks.

      Michael Sinnett, Boeing’s chief project engineer, said in the briefing that investigators hadn’t found evidence of flames within the Boston battery’s container box, an indication it worked as designed to limit damage from a battery failure.

      A witness who tried to fight the Jan. 7 fire said he saw 3- inch (7.6-centimeter) flames outside the lithium-ion battery, and the NTSB has found evidence of high temperatures within battery cells that failed, according to preliminary safety-board documents released March 7.
      Fire, Explosion

      Preliminary estimates are that temperatures within the case exceeded 570 degrees Fahrenheit (299 degrees Celsius), according to a factual report released by the NTSB March 7. Firefighters reported the battery exploded as they attempted to extinguish it, according to the NTSB report.

      Sinnett said the reports of fire and explosion weren’t accurate. goes on

      • Quoting from the “questions and answers” of Boeing’s presentation in Japan:

        “•Water condensation, in our effort to examine all root causes, was one of a number of simulated failure conditions to emulate the failure in the cells. This was one of the ways a short circuit could happen. Simulation did create a short that led to venting. But it is inappropriate at this time to speculate that this is the probable cause. If this proves to be the case, the drain holes and insulation between the cells will prevent it again.
        •The battery blue case sits inside the enclosure case. The venting tube is titanium. Diameter is 1 inch. Steel box is 1.25 inches thick. The battery envelope has not changed. The venting tube goes to a new hole in the fuselage, but doesn’t require new certification requirements except to show the vapors don’t get re-ingested into the airplane, which is validated by lab testing. Testing we’re doing will be re-run for certification process but this testing has been going on for weeks in preparation for defining the end solution for the airplane.”

        I am unable to understand the “water condensation…” statement above, including “…This was one of the ways a short circuit could happen” Does this imply that if a cell is standing in a tiny puddle of water — formed by condensation of moisture within the battery box — such a cell is not sufficiently sealed up to prevent the entry of water into the cell?

        As for the venting tube, I presume the blowout membrane designed to be ruptured only in the event of excessive pressure within the tube is located at the surface of the aircraft’s belly so it will not affect the flow of air over it during flight. However, in the event of such a blowout to vent the battery gases, will the air flowing past it resonate loudly within the tube as if in a pipe organ? Will the passengers then be inclined to accompany the pipe’s music by singing that famous hymn “Nearer my God to thee…”?

        • the1pag :
          Quoting from the “questions and answers” of Boeing’s presentation in Japan:
          “•Water condensation, in our effort to examine all root causes, was one of a number of simulated failure conditions to emulate the failure in the cells. This was one of the ways a short circuit could happen. Simulation did create a short that led to venting. But it is inappropriate at this time to speculate that this is the probable cause. If this proves to be the case, the drain holes and insulation between the cells will prevent it again.
          •The battery blue case sits inside the enclosure case. The venting tube is titanium. Diameter is 1 inch. Steel box is 1.25 inches thick. The battery envelope has not changed. The venting tube goes to a new hole in the fuselage, but doesn’t require new certification requirements except to show the vapors don’t get re-ingested into the airplane, which is validated by lab testing. Testing we’re doing will be re-run for certification process but this testing has been going on for weeks in preparation for defining the end solution for the airplane.”
          I am unable to understand the “water condensation…” statement above, including “…This was one of the ways a short circuit could happen” Does this imply that if a cell is standing in a tiny puddle of water — formed by condensation of moisture within the battery box — such a cell is not sufficiently sealed up to prevent the entry of water into the cell?
          As for the venting tube, I presume the blowout membrane designed to be ruptured only in the event of excessive pressure within the tube is located at the surface of the aircraft’s belly so it will not affect the flow of air over it during flight. However, in the event of such a blowout to vent the battery gases, will the air flowing past it resonate loudly within the tube as if in a pipe organ? Will the passengers then be inclined to accompany the pipe’s music by singing that famous hymn “Nearer my God to thee…”?

          ++++

          Other reports have the thickness at .125 ( 1/8) inch so there may be a misquote

          And how would a LAB test show no re-ingestion into the airplane ventilation system?

          There is such a thing as turbulence and wierd flow patterns when gear is down, flaps are down, crosswinds, , etc- only way to show for sure is to fly those conditions with smoke or other telltales.

          As to the organ pipe – perhaps the safety card should have the words in 15 languages ??

          And when sinnett said NO fire or explosion- a close read of the NTSB report mentions a fireperson who got some sort of splatter on his neck- a minor injury that was treated.

          I doubt if he would agree with Mike-

          Maybe it was a simple ‘ eruption ‘ and not an explosion ??

          And I note there seems to be a ‘ plastic’ or other material cage at the bottom of the cells with drain holes mentioned ( from the blue box ? ) to the SS box- and then to where ?

          Of course they claim battery temps were lower than anticipated- but how about timing of short flights with charge- discharge cycles within a few hours ?

          And how about puddles of electrolyte between ss and aluminum battery case etc ?

          does that reaction cause more heat or voltagem differences etc

          And just why do they leave the battery monitoring circuits in the ss case so IF something goes wrong- you lose control, you lose data, and wind up like the first time ??

          Even Rube Goldberg would cry along with his buddy Murphy

          We now have a stainless steel deck chair on the dreamtanic

          And the CEO got a 20 percent raise

        • Thanks for some very good points, Don, First of all, the photo with the blue box nested inside the new yellow box shows an upturned edge of the yellow box that looks more like a thickness more like 1/8 than 1.25 inch, although I maybe remember a surprisingly big thickness being mentioned by Mike Sinnett. Maybe there was a decimal-point error in Boeing’s answer– meant to say 0.125 but goofed.

          As for the organ pipe effect, it would be hard to examine that in a lab test — do you suppose the FAA will require a flight test that includes rupture of Boeing’s proposed hymen and see what happens after the toxic gas exhaust tube loses its virginity? And do this at various altitudes and airspeeds to get music for all the verses from “Nearer my God to Thee..”?

          I believe the original blue-box design had a plastic retainer above and below the eight cells to hold them in place during CAT, or acceleration/deceleration, or a rough landing bump. Apparently the retainer under the cells could collect condensate from moisture in the internal air because of the cup-shape needed to secure the bottom of each cell.

          The big improvement is to put a hole in the bottom of each such cup-shape. I guess such condensed moisture will now drain through those holes into the bottom of the blue box that is nested inside the safety-box so it will not go anywhere. If some electrolyte seeps into that water it may react with the blue aluminum (?) case, and if it corrodes that case, it can be retained inside the stainless steel case until the exhaust tube blows it out.

          Anyhow, I had some fun posting the following on the web site for a major daily paper:

          Robert Paglee Wrote: (your comment)
          . Quoting from the “questions and answers” of Boeing’s presentation in Japan:

          •The battery blue case sits inside the enclosure case. The venting tube is titanium. Diameter is 1 inch. Steel box is 1.25 inches thick. The battery envelope has not changed. The venting tube goes to a new hole in the fuselage, but doesn’t require new certification requirements except to show the vapors don’t get re-ingested into the airplane, which is validated by lab testing. Testing we’re doing will be re-run for certification process but this testing has been going on for weeks in preparation for defining the end solution for the airplane.”

          Every electric component in an active circuit generates heat that must be dissipated if it is to operate reliably — and maybe even not self-destruct. The original battery box has its eight cells jammed together, so perhaps only the two batteries closest to the front of the box (i.e., No. 1 and No. 8) could have air within the box circulating around them to carry off some of their heat. This was obviously an inadequate design for proper heat dissipation. The proposed fix apparently encloses the original box, regardless of its inadequate design for required thermal heat dissipation, by putting it within another stronger box. Will this not compound and exacerbate the original cell-heat dissipation problem?

          As for the new box’s venting tube, its blowout membrane is designed to be ruptured only in the event of excessive pressure within the tube. I presume the membrane is located at the terminus of the vent pipe on the surface of the aircraft’s belly so it will not introduce turbulence to the air flowing over it during flight. However, in the event a blowout occurs when required to vent the battery gases, will the air flowing past the now open mouth of the tube create a loud resonance within it, thence into the cabin, as if from a pipe organ?

          Will the passengers then be induced to accompany the pipe’s music by singing that famous old hymn “Nearer my God to thee…”?

        • re organ pipe – and daily paper ROTFLMAO

          Perhaps the Boeing version might be ‘ we shall overcome … some day ” ?

  13. I watched it live and it was interesting for Boeing to put up its case and a spirited defence of its solution ;In my view, they have done some good things including the voltage charging changes to minimize risk . Mike SInnet I thought was good ,though his theory was that there was no fire per se -except in Logan , the electrolyte spilled and the connector bundles arcing had a fire ( he said some inches ). The other thing is what is a thermal runaway- Boeing seems to use in the context of all cells venting and the battery goes up in flames and putting the plane risk (He repeatedly called it ” at airplane level) ; post this incident , we have all been talking of thermal runaways in our own ways. Semantics or not, Mike would be better off without getting into a thermal runaway definition discussion. Otherwise, I thought he spoke well and explained the issues and solutions pretty well.
    For me the serious moment was when a Japanese journaist asked whether Boeing had apologised to the Japanese people-the cultural contrast was very evident .
    I also thought, though Boeing may be confident of getting the approval from FAA in weeks, it would be better to show some humility and say, perhaps a month or two. It is better to underpromise and overdeliver. After all you are dealing with Boeing’s brand in the minds of the flying public ,not just govt officials.
    But all said and done, Boeing did a good job ,coming out and talking about the issues ,and fixes.
    The irnoy was not lost when Mike told that the solutions will add 150 pounds weight ,but will retain other trades that favored the Li ion battery .There goes the weight advantage. They will do well to change the electrolyte if possible and may be bring another supplier with equivalent technology for -9 at least.
    Re ETOPs, I got the impression that Boeing thinks it will not change, we have wait for FAA view.

    • “They will do well to change the electrolyte if possible and may be bring another supplier with equivalent technology for -9 at least.”

      I’m quite sure that behind closed doors Boeing is working on a more permanent solution (i.e. one that doesn’t need a venting system).

      • OV-099 :
        “They will do well to change the electrolyte if possible and may be bring another supplier with equivalent technology for -9 at least.”
        I’m quite sure that behind closed doors Boeing is working on a more permanent solution (i.e. one that doesn’t need a venting system).

        well ALL the Boeing Brass says this IS the final – permanent fix – IF it passes all the agreed on tests.

        And only ONE flight is needed to validate – and approved plan will allow certification back including ETOPS.

        YEP- riiight – He missed ‘ I also beleive in the tooth fairy- peter pan – jack in the beanstalk-

        and I never heard of murphy”

        Step right up and see the bearded lady, the 5 headed sheep
        Pay no attention to the forked tongue barker and do not look behind the blue curtain !!

        One question that was not asked – How many commercial airplanes other than the 787 have you been a major player during the design – decision cycle ??

        How many military airplanes have you been involved with that did NOT use an Iron bird to validate systems ?

  14. I tried to post my comments to Boeing at Randy’s Journal but it kept giving me an error message. Luckily, I had copied it for running a spell check, so I can now post it below. I fear that with the safety box enclosing the blue battery box the cell heat dissipation problem –, already quite bad — will just get worse, and battery failures more likely.

    The Boeing presentation, particularly by Mike Sinnett, was very well done professionally, and showed commitment to a hopefully suitable containment of the problem. However, Boeing’s solution seems aimed at containing the problem rather than eliminating it. Encasing a poorly designed battery box inside a safety box does not cure the problem, it just vents it, but may also increase the frequency of its occurrence.

    It appears that the only significant improvement inside the blue box is an attempt to put insulation between the cells. This may reduce the conduction of heat from a failing cell directly to the adjoining ones. But a big potential problem is that after a failing cell’s vent disc is ruptured due to high internal gas pressure, those hot gases have nowhere to go except against the extremely nearby inside wall of the blue case, and then to propagate along that wall to heat up the adjacent cells.

    But the real problem may be insufficient heat dissipation from all the cells because they are so jammed together in the poorly designed blue box. Adding insulation between the cells to provide thermal isolation may actually exacerbate the cooling problem. It is a commonly understood principle by every electrical engineer that any component in an active electrical circuit generates heat, and this heat must be dissipated or the component’s performance may be degraded, or it may even self-destruct.

    And putting the blue battery box inside another safety box may exacerbate this problem even further unless cooled air from the 787’s air conditioning system is forced into and through the safety box. However, the photo of the safety box shows only a single hole for exiting the hot gases venting from a failed blue battery box. Will the safety box cause the blue box inside and the cells inside that box to run even hotter?

    Another problem not addressed is that the battery control circuit boards are still encased inside the blue box, so when a failing cell vents its hot gasses against the inside wall of the blue box, this heat may cause failure or mal operation of charge management circuits. This can result in battery overcharging because the battery charger senses a drop in voltage caused by the failing cell in the series string of eight cells.

    Overcharging is known to be a very unhealthy condition and this risk was properly cited by Sinnett as such during the presentation

  15. its not obvious that they put the blue box inside the stainless box – but since the photos and PPoint presentations and words say that the stainless box is only vented in case of a cell failure, etc, at least two obvious questions remain – how to get rid of HEAT caused by charge- discharge cycles, and whatever moisture is in the box . At the same time Mike was very detailed in the Q&A regarding gettting rid of heat in the electronics bay by running cabin air ( one way ? ) thru the bay- picking up heat and dumping it into cargo hold, etc.

    Now used cabin air has a LOT of moisture caused by humans breathing, hot coffee, etc- In fact the claim is that the humidity is higher than in all previous models, etc ad naseaum.

    So now one has humidified air ( either from the cabin OR from the air system ) going thru the e bay etc. perhaps there is a one way check valve that allows air INTO the box for cooling ? That seems to be out if the presentation is correct.

    And then what about the ground crews around IF the battery goes bonkers AFTer landing- after towing and braking ?

    Methinks there is MUCH missing – despite the pretty power point pictures !!

    Its called common sense !!!

  16. Kenneth Long says: “But thank god you got that ‘added battery enclosure’ and flame tube (slide # 15). Boy that feature will catch on with the hot-rod guys, you might want to patent it guys”

    The venting seems.to be directed downward under the belly. Does that add some lift and save on fuel consumption to make up for the extra 150 lbs of the safety box? Don’t let EADS copy this idea before putting it in the engineering notebook, ready for the patent lawyer’s perusal.

  17. With all the power point rangers involved- perhaps they should be required to read Ernie Ganns Fate is the Hunter- and memorize the bit about an ” unknown genie who unzips his fly and urinates on the pillars of science ” ( a close but not exact version of ernies famous cliche )

    OK we have heat in the box and no vent unless it gets WAY to hot –

    we have moisture perhaps in the box – and no vent unless things get to hot

    we have charge-discharge cycles- and batteries wrapped in (3M DUCT TAPE ? )- and no obvious method of heat transfer out of box

    and we still keep all the battery monitoring circuts etc IN the SAME box !!

    and BTW- If the battery goes bonkers – the pilots do not get any notification to divert- they will only know that the battery is off line and doesn;t work

    Lots of hot air – both in the box and outside

    properly vented, hot air can reduce drag – read the history of the P-51 and the odd air/oil cooler and where it was vented which increased speed/lowered drag !!

  18. Don, you say:

    “…its not obvious that they put the blue box inside the stainless box – but since the photos and PPoint presentations and words say that the stainless box is only vented in case of a cell failure, etc, at least two obvious questions remain – how to get rid of HEAT caused by charge- discharge cycles, and whatever moisture is in the box . At the same time Mike was very detailed in the Q&A regarding getting rid of heat in the electronics bay by running cabin air ( one way ? ) thru the bay- picking up heat and dumping it into cargo hold, etc”

    The slide show doesn’t include a couple of photos that go with the text and other photos. I printed them and my pages aren’t numbered, but counting from the first page, at the top of the fifth page is a photo of the unmistakable blue box set inside the yellow (stainless?) box with what appears to be a black cover for the yellow box with closely-spaced holes around the periphery that appear to match the studs on the flange of the yellow box. The caption under the photo states: “The battery will now sit inside a new enclosure made out of stainless steel. A stainless steel panel is seen on the right.”

    On the same page, the lower photo appears to show two short power cables running as jumpers from the output connector on the blue box to the new connector that will be mounted on the cover of the stainless box. From the close spacing of the studs for securing the cover, I presume it is Boeing’s intent to seal the box so no bad gases can escape except via the exit tube. Because the exit tube venting requires the breaking of a scored seal (like those on the cells) the box can be exposed to the rarefied air at maybe 39,000 ft. so it must be sealed. That excludes the possibility of circulating cool cabin air in the space between the two boxes.

    I had previously assumed that all the components would be removed from the blue box and remounted inside the larger stainless safety box so air (or better yet, an inert cooling gas) could circulate more readily around those cells that were previously all jammed together inside the blue box. However, from this presentation, I can only surmise that is not the case because of those two photos, although perhaps that is still an option. My guess is that doing such an extensive change could precipitate an extensive recertification, so heat dissipation engineering issues are being sacrificed for time considerations, and in fact cell heat problems are being exacerbated. I am appalled if this is true!

    bobpaglee@aol.com

    • granted there does appear in the photo what may be part of the old blue box so OK – I may have missed that

      But also note TWO braided ground straps which do NOT look like what would be used between a sealed box and its ‘ cover’ plate. Its a poorly dummied up photo IMO

      as to the 39K altitude – nope – the entire tube is pressurized to approx 8000 ft altitude plus or minus maybe a 1000 feet.

      And Mike in the Q&A made a detailed explanation of why there is NO fire protection in the electronic bay, since to keep electronics cool, they circulate cabin air- and any suppressent would not work. Since the heated air is dumped into the cargo bay – thats where the fire system is installed. The e-bay is supposed to have ONLY fire-proof material

      • inside the bomb box sits the original blue box battery ( with minor internal adaptions and “extentions cords” to the outside)
        If the lid sits on a rubber seal you need ground straps to have it grounded properly. ( good EMC practice would require conductive sealant or a second seal made from a metallic mesh covered seal )

  19. You guys are well-tuned in, but those straps (assuming they are of braided copper wire) look like they would be capable of carrying at least a million amps from the cover to ground. Too bad the rest of the battery is not so overdesigned.

    OK, maybe I exagerated about the (gas -fire?) vent tube. But once the relief blowout hymen is blown open by high pressure in the safety box, the inside of the box will quickly go to altitude pressure whatever it is at that time, not cabin pressure. No problem if it blows after landing, but…. This doesn’t mean that a separate valve for allowing cabin air to circulate between the two concentric boxes before the relief hymen blows out cannot be designed and implemented, but it could get complicated.

    • ref the photo at

      http://news.cnet.com/2300-11386_3-10016136-3.html

      looks like a clear plastic show and tell cover- my point was the ground straps look like they would be between the seal cover and the batter ( box? ) – however the blue panel in the background -inside looks like the same PANEL used for quick disconnect of the battery.

      wires showing underneath and alongside the blue panel would not be visible IF behind that panel was a box like the prior fiasco.

      And as to the 30 K feet , yes you are correct as to the pressure altitude in the box IF the burst diaphram for the box blew out. Which means another interesting problem. The box must stand an external pressure of around 10 psi differential, and the cells internal will no doubt expand or distort due to the delta between internal cell pressure and the outside /inside of the box at altitude.

      Seems to me the rube goldbderg ( apologies to rube ) solution still leaves a lot of unanswered or non obvious questions.

      its a pretty good bet the thin aluminum box previously used could not have taken the higher outside pressure in the case of venting.

      and then there is the electronic circuits, etc- some of which may be affected by pressure differentials

      While it is easy to armchair all the possibilites of failure or fixes – one certainly wonders why it was NOT done that way before ?

      Especially when the oft repeated thermal runaway can only be caused by overcharging, and we designed around that – while at the same time saying there was NO overcharging in the fleet records.

      And of course there was NO fire- the fireman used bucu gallons of halogen type fluids for over a half hour putting the NON flame out only to have it light again and again and again
      leaving a small pile of white hot molten metal caused by the NOT a fire

      Now can we complete discussion by working on the wave-particle theories of quantum mechanics , shrodingers cat, and bozos er bosons and the god particle??

      Murphy was an optomist !!!

      • See my posts further up ( #16, #20 ) . There is one image around on Randy’s blog that shows the “real lid” : ppp5.jpeg

  20. Oops — it would take at least two valves — the first for one-way input of cabin PRESSURIZED COOLING AIR and to seal that entry port against a reversal of pressure and a second valve to exit the ex-cool air but seal it in the event of a cell failure that blows out the hymen for the relief tube. Could be done with properly designed software that would need plenty of testing and maybe a recetification.

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