Promise is the operative word. Boeing /787 woes have a sordid tale of fire and smoke and some mishap. Even though millions of passenger have already flown on the aircraft with millions of miles and hundreds of thousands cycles. That is current battery clue, ...cycles. As those cycles occur, science has isolated at the molecular level a diminished capacity to handle the electrical transactions in the battery and then begins the building of runaway heat. More cycles mean more vulnerability for a battery event. Even with the new safety precautions Boeing does not have a behavioral compliance for its Lithium-ion battery over expected usage cycles. In other words there is a chance, not on all batteries, but occasional batteries, that a battery could deplete at its molecular level and have inability to stay stable and not have a runaway episode. If that time would occur, then Boeing has adequate protection, and sufficient system to handle any event. The Boeing is therefore, safe for all its customers.
The lessons learned here is that the passengers should not have any hesitation about flying the 787 with its current battery strategy of treating a failing battery during flight. It may be no more worrisome than a during flight failure of a kitchen appliance where the potatoes are taken off the menu because the oven is down until arriving at its destination. That is my perspective of the current battery problem.
Establishing a safe habitat for a temperamental issue allows for the necessary time
for the evolution of battery technology, once the Achilles heal of the Lithium-ion has been exposed. Some elemental questions remain on the Boeing table with the FAA.
Should an airplane fly with the possibility of battery runaway during operations?
My own thought doesn't count or matter. Boeing has convinced those who matter and who do the counting , that things fail on all aircraft during life cycles in operation. As long as you have preventative measures installed on those habitual parts of wear and tear, then they have it covered for safe operation. That is the wear impediments Boeing addresses on the 787, a containment box.
The science report that shows promise. A new way of stabilizing The Lithium-ion battery in the lab is under study. No fires ever and no containment box period!
While testing the material, the team realized this perfluoropolyether — PFPE or Li/LiNi1/3Co1/3Mn1/3O2 for you chemists out there — could dissolve lithium salt, an indicator needed to produce conductivity in batteries. “Most polymers don’t mix with salt, but this one did,” says grad student and head researcher Dominica Wong. “And it was nonflammable.”
Boeing pushes science with its Lithium Ion Battery and science pushes back. The "Golden Battery" maybe sooner than later. An airplane without a containment case becomes obsolete. The billion dollar answer is just a few years away. Containment is becoming just a stop gap not a solution. Research has a new guide on to explore with promising results. Aviation is probably jumping all over this promise with added support and money.
All though this is not a panacea for the current Lithium -Ion battery problem, it is a new path to pursue with a solid architecture for stability. Who knows how this will play out as the for the click of LI lock is found. Science will play this out with billions of $ at stake.
In the mean time Boeing can fly on with solid containment of a mystery.