Battery thermal management problems plague Boeing Dreamliners, force emergency landing in Japan

In recent weeks, the newest Boeing 787 passenger jets have encountered several problems that have prompted aviation officials across the globe to ground them until these issues can be resolved. Paramount among the concerns seems to be thermal management technologies used in the lithium ion batteries onboard the aircraft.

One such jet was forced to make an emergency landing in Japan Thursday due to a swollen and overheated battery beneath the cockpit, according to the Associated Press. Crew members detected a burning smell, which was later traced to an electrical room where there were visible burn marks and electrolyte fluids that had leaked from the battery.

GS Yuasa Corp., which manufacturers the batteries for Boeing, told the AP that it has not been officially determined if the problem lies with the battery, the power source or the electrical system. In the meantime, nearly all of the 50 Boeing 787s, dubbed Dreamliners, have been taken out of commission around the world. Authorities in the United States, Japan and several European nations have mandated that the jets be grounded until their investigations are completed.

We often talk about thermal management of electronics when it comes to smartphones and computers. In those devices, overheating is an inconvenience. But, in a passenger jet, hundreds of lives may literally hang in the balance if the most efficient technologies are not employed.

Francesco Ciucci, a mechanical engineering professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, expressed his surprise to the news source that such “thermal mismanagement” could happen on board a Boeing jet in this day and age – especially considering the advancements that have been made in recent years.

S-Bond Technologies has developed active solder technology to bond many advanced thermal management materials that have application for cooling batteries, electronics and LEDs, which are all being used more and more in aircraft like the Boeing Dreamliner.

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