SEATTLE – The National Transportation Safety Board is now analyzing battery cells at a microscopic level for shorts that might have caused the fire aboard a Japan Air Lines 787.
The NTSB says it’s also looking for signs of in-service damage and manufacturing defects, that might have led to the uncontrolled “thermal runaway” of at least one of the battery’s eight individual cells, which likely triggered damage in other cells. Three cells are heavily damaged, while others are barely touched.
The NTSB is bringing in experts from the Carderock Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center laboratories to help in its investigation.
Flight International magazine is reporting on conversations they’re having with the co-founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX. Both his cars and his spacecraft use lithium ion batteries.
Flight, quoting emails from Musk, says the individual cells inside a battery case need to be separated.
“Large cells without enough space between them to isolate against the cell-to-cell thermal domino effect means it is simply a matter of time before there are more incidents of this nature,” Musk said in the magazine.
The cells inside the batteries from both the Japan Air Lines incident in Boston, and an ANA airplane in western Japan have eight cells grouped together.
The National Transportation Safety Board says the battery aboard the Boston jet suffered a thermal runaway, and at least three cells were heavily involved in the fire - cells numbered 5,6 and 7, in close proximity.