Solar Impulse Update: Battery Damage Grounds Plane Until 2016

JUL 17 2015 BY MARK KANE 15

...we will not be bored here....

…we will not be bored here….

Battery damage caused by overheating will stop the Solar Impulse 2 in its journey around the world by April 2016!

So, the solar aircraft is stuck in Hawaii for over half a year, it seems.

The team didn’t reveal any details, although overheating occurred on the first day of the flight from Japan, so they were lucky to be able to continue another 4 days.

Solar Impulse 2 will be hosted by the University of Hawaii with the support of the Department of Transportation in a hangar at Kalaeloa airport. Post-maintenance check flights are expected in 2016.

“Despite the hard work of the Solar Impulse team to repair the batteries which overheated in the record breaking oceanic flight from Nagoya to Hawaii, the solar powered airplane of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will stay in Hawaii until early spring 2016.

Following the longest and most difficult leg of the round-the-world journey which lasted 5 days and 5 nights (117 hours and 52 minutes), Solar Impulse will undergo maintenance repairs on the batteries due to damages brought about by overheating.

During the first ascent on day one of the flight from Nagoya to Hawaii, the battery temperature increased due to a high climb rate and an over insulation of the gondolas. And while the Mission Team was monitoring this very closely during the flight, there was no way to decrease the temperature for the remaining duration as each daily cycle requires an ascent to 28’000 feet and descent for optimal energy management.

Overall the airplane performed very well during the flight. The damage to the batteries is not a technical failure or a weakness in the technology but rather an evaluation error in terms of the profile of the mission and the cooling design specifications of the batteries. The temperature of the batteries in a quick ascent / descent in tropical climates was not properly anticipated.

Irreversible damage to certain parts of the batteries will require repairs which will take several months. In parallel, the Solar Impulse engineering team will be studying various options for better cooling and heating processes for very long flights.”

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15 Comments on "Solar Impulse Update: Battery Damage Grounds Plane Until 2016"

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Ambulator

So, a technical failure of the batteries has grounded them, at least for now. Nobody said it would be easy.

no comment

unfortunately, this exercise has become pointless. you can’t even call this an “around the world” trip anymore.

islandboy

“The temperature of the batteries in a quick ascent / descent in tropical climates was not properly anticipated.” Who woulda thunk that? So they develop the aircraft in Western Europe and never thought of taking in to Southern Europe or North Africa for tropical environment performance testing? I guess you cant cover everything but, this seems a rather serious omission. Would be like a major automaker developing a battery electric car and not testing it thoroughly in hot climates!

Oops!

Maybe they should have consulted Renault/Nissan on battery thermal management, seeing as how they had a very intimate experience with those issues!

no comment

i don’t know that an airplane is the same as a car. in an airplane, the temperature swings are more rapid because of the differences between sea level and 10,000 feet.

islandboy

No sir. That was not the problem! Read again:

“During the first ascent on day one of the flight from Nagoya to Hawaii, the battery temperature increased due to a high climb rate and an over insulation of the gondolas. And while the Mission Team was monitoring this very closely during the flight, there was no way to decrease the temperature for the remaining duration as each daily cycle requires an ascent to 28’000 feet and descent for optimal energy management.”

So, in their focus on energy management, they overlooked thermal management, an area car companies, like Nissan and Tesla, have over 5 years of real world experience with! Hows difficult would it have been to include in the aircraft’s design, a ducting system to bring cold air from outside to flow through spaces left between cells as required? I’d bet that that is precisely what they will be doing during the break!

no comment

what you have cited suggests that there was a big temperature difference among the different altitude at which the plane flew during different parts of the day. that’s not the kind of thing that a car is going to experience.

islandboy

So why would the outside temperature have anything to do with overheating during rapid ascent to 28,000 ft.? The problem was that the batteries were so well insulated that, the drop in outside temperature did not affect the battery pack and once the battery pack heated up there was no way to dissipate the heat, so they basically stayed hot. At least, that’s how I understand it.

ModernMarvelFan

LOL.

Good one…

No “lizard” battery in this case, huh?

Speculawyer

I guess by the time it gets repaired, the days will be much shorter such that they will wait for next spring when the days are longer again.

no comment

i think the bigger problem is getting across the atlantic ocean. hawaii is close enough to the equator that i would think that they would be able to get to phoenix, and once they got to the mainland, they would have plenty of options in terms of getting across the U.S. (e.g. flying shorter segments). but they would have less latitude when it comes to crossing the atlantic ocean. as it stands now, they would be crossing the atlantic ocean in the fall and since the path is from new york to somewhere in europe (or somewhere in north africa as a backup plan), that would mean crossing the north atlantic where they really would have an issue with getting enough daylight hours at that time of the year.

hawaii is probably the best place to park the plane because of the year-round mild weather there.

pjwood1

Why are my layovers never 6 months, in Hawaii?

GRA

This is the perfect opportunity to let this senseless waste of time and money expire quietly. Exactly what is this supposed to prove – that it’s possible to travel around the world more slowly than you can do it on a ship, but at vastly greater expense?

Although at the rate they’re going, you could probably bicycle or skate across the continents, then make your own Kon-Tiki or RA for the water crossings and beat them. It was dumb when they started, and just as dumb (but even more expensive) now. Solar-powered a/c for HALO surveillance tasks is entirely reasonable, but for practical travel?

Djoni

Pratical travel?
We’re far from that, but in any journey all come down to the first step.
In any mather, I’m not distress that some tiny swiss bleach money is getting a chance to get use praticaly.
Of course, you could do much useful thing also.

Jon Mallary
Batteries heat as they charge and discharge. The article’s wording is interesting. One would infer too strong a drain from an extended steep climb but… Consider, Induced current flow from the atmospheric layers of voltage that graduates upward in elevation. Ambient electricity can induce current, and rechargeable lithium batteries are sensitive to charging voltage variations. At the time earth was impacted with multiple CMEs from solar flares which, wrought havoc with satellites and our magnetosphere as it penetrated. Remember, electricity is electrons and electron penetration went off the charts according to NASA. Radiation storms as well but those effect northern latitudes not tropical! Y’all need to study up on the massive amounts of power imparted to this planets surface and near earth space by the sun, what it can do and how. The evidence out there you won’t see on mainstream news. It is compelling. I highly recommend any intelligent open minded folks not up on the subject, to consider the roles of electricity in climate, storm and geological activity. The correlations will blow your mind. Just Google Solar Induced Natural Disasters and listen to Dr. U-Yen. Then you’ll get why I suspect the heating damage was caused by overcharging… Read more »

Oh look, the Electric Universe folk bring the tinfoil. A rudimentary understanding would show you that cross-sectional areas are massive, currents pathetic. Just as pathetic as YouTube peer review, correlations cherry-picking (without any citations), and claims regarding the 787 battery. A grounded assembly, in a Faraday cage, in _another_ Faraday cage (the 787 has lightning protection, like… every other plane).