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Model plane hobbyists know the risks of lithium-ion batteries
Washington Post ^ | January 17, 2013 | Craig Timberg

Posted on 01/17/2013 10:52:34 PM PST by Seizethecarp

A scale model of a Reaper drone rumbled down the runway and lifted into the gray Canadian sky, powered by a plastic propeller and a lithium-ion battery. When the tiny plane crashed back to earth a few seconds later, white smoke began rising from the wreckage.

“Why is it on fire?” one of the hobbyists asked the other, moments before bright orange flames began shooting from the crash site.

The weary reply, captured on video, was: “Battery.”

Small, potent lithium-ion power packs have transformed the world of radio-controlled model aircraft, much as they have allowed smartphones to get thinner, power tools to work longer and electric cars to go farther. But a pair of serious incidents this month involving rechargeable batteries in Boeing 787 Dreamliners have highlighted what model-airplane hobbyists long have known — lithium-ion technology comes with inherent dangers.

Considering the sheer numbers of lithium-ion batteries — more than 4 billion rechargeable cells were made last year, according to industry figures — fires are not common. After a battery-powered Chevy Volt ignited after a test crash in 2011, federal investigators said electric cars were no more vulnerable than gas-powered vehicles, more than 20 of which catch fire each hour in the United States.

Yet some risk persists, and the results can be startling.

(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: boeing787; drone; lithiumiron; modelaircraft

1 posted on 01/17/2013 10:52:45 PM PST by Seizethecarp
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To: Seizethecarp

The video included in the article of the model Reaper drone crashing and burning is quite startling. After the initial crash it there is some smoke then the fire seems to be out but when the wreck is approached, it suddenly bursts into flames!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeEn5mVy32Q


2 posted on 01/17/2013 10:58:08 PM PST by Seizethecarp (Defend aircraft from "runway kill zone" mini-drone helicopter swarm attacks: www.runwaykillzone.com)
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To: Seizethecarp

Yes they do.
They can be pretty volatile.


3 posted on 01/17/2013 11:00:20 PM PST by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: Seizethecarp

Do ya suppose Obama will ban them? LOL


4 posted on 01/17/2013 11:02:50 PM PST by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: Seizethecarp
Lots of energy stored in a small package, look out when it's released quickly.
Theory of the *Bang*.
5 posted on 01/17/2013 11:03:37 PM PST by The Cajun (Sarah Palin, Mark Levin......Nuff said.)
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To: Seizethecarp

Lithium Ions can deliver major amperage on demand and the can deliver it when not on demand.


6 posted on 01/17/2013 11:04:27 PM PST by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: Seizethecarp
The general surprise that lithium ion batteries are dangerous is a result of the intentional dumbing down of our schools by the donks and their NEA allies for a couple of decades.

Short version: Anyone who does not understand that the level of energy density in a lithium ion battery posses an inherent risk is scientifically illiterate.

7 posted on 01/17/2013 11:08:34 PM PST by piytar (The predator-class is furious that their prey are shooting back.)
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To: Seizethecarp

72,000 normal cars catch fire each year in the usa? just sitting there? i’m not talking about the ones in accidents, where you could possibly expect it. the electric ones were siting in somebody’s’garage and they started on fire.


8 posted on 01/17/2013 11:11:23 PM PST by Secret Agent Man (I can neither confirm or deny that; even if I could, I couldn't - it's classified.)
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To: mylife

OMG!! What if one of those were to crash into a......school??? What if several were to crash all at once into that same school?? In order to save just 1 child they should be banned for ordinary citizens.


9 posted on 01/17/2013 11:14:20 PM PST by yadent
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To: Secret Agent Man
As it turns out I happened to receive from GM a notice back in 2008 that it might be a good idea for me not to park my Regal GS in my garage until warranty work was done.

It seems that owners would park the car in the garage and go in the house and after several minutes the car would catch fire and in some cases burn the house down!

The GM fools improperly designed the head gaskets on the one bank of the V6 that leans forward and it would leak oil onto the hot exhaust manifold but ONLY after the engine was turned off. Go figure.

A new, improved gasket and an additional flange seems to have worked, at least on my GS, which I still drive.

But that is the exception in gas vehicles to be sure!

10 posted on 01/17/2013 11:21:45 PM PST by Seizethecarp (Defend aircraft from "runway kill zone" mini-drone helicopter swarm attacks: www.runwaykillzone.com)
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To: mylife

Lithium Ions can deliver major amperage on demand and the can deliver it when not on demand.

Lol!

That’s about it, ain’t it!

Like I said on another thread, it’s one thing to put them into cell phones and laptops.

It’s quite another to put them into how-many hundred ton aircraft with two or three hundred people on board flying at 30,000 feet over major metropolitan areas...

They have technology with a much safer MTBF... weighs a bit more, probably ONE LESS person per flight would easily cover it.


11 posted on 01/17/2013 11:32:26 PM PST by djf (Conservative values help the poor. Liberal values help them STAY poor!!!)
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To: Seizethecarp

There are significant differences between the batteries that Boeing is utilizing and the Volt batteries or others. There are different ‘lithium ion’ types. Boeing is utilizing cobalt oxide batteries to produce a hell of a lot of power, and on a scale never used before. This is necessary because the 787 varies from the 777 and other predecessors in that functions that used to rely on off-gases from the engines (de-icing, cabin climate control, etc) are now being done with battery power. The demands on the batteries are huge. The heat generated by the sustained draw on the batteries on long flights, by de-icing systems should have been forseen.


12 posted on 01/17/2013 11:38:20 PM PST by RobertClark (It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we'r)
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To: djf; mylife; piytar
I don't know if the rule still applies, but in 2008 they banned airplane passengers from carrying spare lithium ion batteries in checked luggage. But you know, jet fuel also packs a lot of energy. http://safetravel.dot.gov/whats_new_batteries.html FWIW, the new Airbus planes also use lithium ion batteries.
13 posted on 01/17/2013 11:42:49 PM PST by MrShoop
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To: MrShoop

AFAIK, that rule is still in effect.

These incidents have been covered extensively here (The Seattle environs), and they have not ever reported that the rule had been changed.

No lithium ion batteries in luggage.


14 posted on 01/17/2013 11:51:11 PM PST by djf (Conservative values help the poor. Liberal values help them STAY poor!!!)
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To: Seizethecarp

I sure hope the author of this hysteria-fest isn’t expecting The Pulizer Prize.


15 posted on 01/17/2013 11:51:11 PM PST by SpaceBar
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To: Seizethecarp
The GM fools improperly designed the...

Yes, indeed, Government Motors "engineers" are prone to such...

16 posted on 01/18/2013 12:33:35 AM PST by C210N (When people fear government there is tyranny; when government fears people there is liberty)
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To: Seizethecarp

Improper discharge to zero prior to recharge and held to that constant for an “X” amount of time causing thermal runaway resulting in big time fire of the unit.
IMOP


17 posted on 01/18/2013 2:54:01 AM PST by CGASMIA68
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To: Seizethecarp

I predict that model-airplaning will be abolished....too similar to drones. Ya can’t have private drones. It’s just not right.


18 posted on 01/18/2013 4:53:39 AM PST by Scooter100 ("Now that the fog has lifted, I still can't find my pipe". --- S. Holmes)
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To: Seizethecarp
Limp-wristed people who use electric motors for their models is the problem. They should be using those wonderful little gas engines of old.

;-D

19 posted on 01/18/2013 7:10:58 AM PST by GingisK
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To: Seizethecarp

Another related story:

“Praised but Fire-Prone, Battery Fails Test in 787”

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/18/business/inside-the-787-an-unsettling-risk-for-boeing.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&hp

“Powerful and lightweight, lithium-ion batteries are the perfect power source for modern gadgets. But ubiquitous as they are, their short history has also been fraught with problems — they have caught fire in cellphones, laptop computers and electric cars, and even destroyed a small Navy submarine.”

“In late 2008, a mini-submarine designed to carry Navy SEALs to shore was destroyed when its lithium-ion battery exploded as it was being charged.”


20 posted on 01/18/2013 7:30:39 AM PST by Seizethecarp (Defend aircraft from "runway kill zone" mini-drone helicopter swarm attacks: www.runwaykillzone.com)
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To: Scooter100
Model airplanes, like guns, can be used for good or evil depending on who is operating them.

IMO the public and public officials need to be educated as to the offensive capabilities of model drones, which is mostly not realized by either. (see my tag line)

The FAA issues NOTAMS (flight banning) already anywhere near POTUS and other “VIPS” but criminals, assassins and terrorists won't observe those restrictions anymore than “gun free” zones are observed.

After the first killing-by-drone (by government, criminal or terrorist) I certainly expect a move to ban model aircraft, not unlike the big push now after Sandy Hook.

21 posted on 01/18/2013 7:39:22 AM PST by Seizethecarp (Defend aircraft from "runway kill zone" mini-drone helicopter swarm attacks: www.runwaykillzone.com)
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To: RobertClark
There are different ‘lithium ion’ types. Boeing is utilizing cobalt oxide batteries to produce a hell of a lot of power

FWIW, all lithium batteries use lithium cobalt oxide on the electrode. It's what helps them generate electricity. Boeing is not using some new, special form of battery. The latest form of Lithium battery is the Lithium Iron Phosphate or Li-Fe battery. A123 Systems has been a leading developer of Li-Fe battery technology. A lot of folks have demonized A123 as being a crony of Obama's but the truth is they existed as a company long before he took office.

There are two primary types of Lithium batteries in operation today: Litium Ion (Li-Ion) and Lithium Ion Polymer. (Li-Poly or Lipo as they're commonly called)

Li-Ion cells are usually packaged in a 'can' similar to dry cell batteries. Lipo batteries are packaged in mylar bags and the form is usually flat and square.

Lipos are used for cell phones, laptops and model airplanes because they are more compact and because of the mylar bags are lighter and more compact. Both are usually rechargable. Li-Ion cells are what is used in modern electric cars such as the Tesla and Volt. Li-Ion cells all include two features: a vent to prevent over-pressure and circuitry to prevent over-voltage/over-discharge. Over-voltage is almost always causes over-pressure as it overheats the battery's contents due to internal shorts. Over-discharge depletes the battery which can also cause internal shorts. Internal shorts cause the battery to overheat, which causes the chemicals to generate heat and gas.

Lipo cells are what are used in cell phones, laptops and model airplanes. Lipos almost never have a vent because they're vacuum-sealed in the mylar bag. Consumer-grade Lipos include the circuitry to prevent over-voltage.

Hobby-grade batteries almost never contain this circuitry. It's up to the user to make sure the batteries do not overcharge or over-discharge.

Cheap consumer-grade batteries for cell phones and laptops are cheap because the manufacturers omit this to reduce cost. When you read about cell phone or laptop batteries catching fire it's because the owners bought the cheap after-market batteries instead of the more expensive OEM batteries.

I've been using Lipos in model airplanes for almost 10 years and the causes of fires is very well understood and documented in the modeling community. The WaPo article does a fairly decent job of explaining these reasons.

22 posted on 01/18/2013 10:16:47 AM PST by Ol' Dan Tucker (People should not be afraid of the government. Government should be afraid of the people)
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To: Seizethecarp
“Powerful and lightweight, lithium-ion batteries are the perfect power source for modern gadgets. But ubiquitous as they are, their short history has also been fraught with problems — they have caught fire in cellphones, laptop computers and electric cars, and even destroyed a small Navy submarine.”

Lithium Ion Polymer or Lipo battery fires in cell phones and laptops can almost always be traced to the owners who purchased cheap after-market replacement batteries instead of the OEM batteries.

The after-market batteries are cheaper because the ChiComs who make them omit the battery monitoring circuitry that prevents over-charging or over-discharging that are found in the OEM batteries.

23 posted on 01/18/2013 10:22:04 AM PST by Ol' Dan Tucker (People should not be afraid of the government. Government should be afraid of the people)
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To: Seizethecarp
I should also add that the causes of Li-Ion batteries are well-known and documented.

Over-charging and over-discharging causes internal shorts, which causes the battery to overheat. When this happens, the liquid conents boil generating pressure and heat.

When they get hot enough they burst into flames.

24 posted on 01/18/2013 10:26:07 AM PST by Ol' Dan Tucker (People should not be afraid of the government. Government should be afraid of the people)
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