Boeing 3 SC

When Federal Aviation Administration officials grounded Boeing’s fleet of 787 Dreamliner commercial jets last week due to unexplained battery fires, one of President Obama’s favorite green energy technologies got another black eye.

Technologists and safety experts had long warned of problems with the lithium ion battery when in 2009 the president began betting billions of tax dollars that it should be the green power of choice for cars, trucks, and even aircraft.

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Just three years before that, a UPS cargo plane made an emergency landing when a shipment of lithium ion batteries it was carrying caught fire. The plane landed safely but was destroyed by the ensuing conflagration.

Small lithium ion batteries are widely used in consumer electronics, but powering vehicles like a car or an aircraft is a much greater challenge. The 787, for example, has to generate 1.5 megawatts of electrical power, enough to light up several hundred homes.

Boeing and the FAA said the 787 will not fly again until the battery fires are explained and fixed. There have been a total of four reported fires, including one during 2010 pre-delivery flight, according to Scientific American.

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Read More at . By Richard Pollock.

Photo Credit: Stephen De Vight (Creative Commons)