Lithium-ion (rechargeable) and lithium-metal (non-rechargeable) battery cells put aircraft at risk of igniting and fueling fires. Lithium batteries can be packed in bulk and shipped in the cargo holds of freighter aircraft; currently lithium batteries are banned from bulk shipment on passenger aircraft .
The federally regulated Class C cargo compartment extinguishing system’s utilization of a 5 %vol Halon 1301 knockdown concentration and a sustained 3 %vol Halon 1301 may not be sufficient at inerting lithium-ion battery vent gas and air mixtures . At 5 %vol Halon 1301 the flammability limits of lithium-ion premixed battery vent gas (Li-Ion pBVG) in air range from 13.80 %vol to 26.07 %vol Li-Ion pBVG. Testing suggests that 8.59 %vol Halon 1301 is required to render all ratios of the Li-Ion pBVG in air inert.
The lower flammability limit (LFL) and upper flammability limit (UFL) of hydrogen and air mixtures are 4.95 %vol and 76.52 %vol hydrogen, respectively. With the addition of 10 %vol and 20 %vol Halon 1301, the LFL is 9.02 %vol and 11.55 %vol hydrogen, respectively, and the UFL is 45.70 %vol and 28.39 %vol hydrogen, respectively. The minimum inerting concentration (MIC) of Halon 1301 in hydrogen and air mixtures is 26.72 %vol Halon 1301 at 16.2 %vol hydrogen.
The LFL and UFL of Li-Ion pBVG and air mixtures are 7.88 %vol and 37.14 %vol Li-Ion pBVG, respectively. With the addition of 5 %vol, 7 %vol, and 8 %vol Halon 1301, the LFLs are 13.80 %vol, 16.15 %vol, and 17.62 % vol Li-Ion pBVG, respectively; the UFLs are 26.07 %vol, 23.31 %vol, and 21.84 %vol Li-Ion pBVG, respectively. The MIC of Halon 1301 in Li-Ion pBVG and air mixtures is 8.59 %vol Halon 1301 at 19.52 %vol Li-Ion pBVG.
Le Chatelier’s mixing rule has been shown to be an effective measure for estimating the flammability limits of Li-Ion pBVGes. The LFL has a 1.79 % difference while the UFL has a 4.53 % difference. The state of charge (SOC) affects the flammability limits in an apparent parabolic manner, where the widest flammability limits are at or near 100 % SOC.
A series of tests was conducted to determine the effect that concentrations of hydrogen below its lower flammability limit can have on the burning of other materials. The vertical Bunsen burner test cabinet was set up to run tests with hydrogen concentrations varying between 0% and 4% by volume. Three different materials were tested: a 1/16″ thick woven carbon fiber, a fabric aircraft seat cover, and an 8-ply unidirectional carbon fiber. All three materials showed significantly increased after-flame times and burn lengths as the concentration of hydrogen increased. The burn rate of both carbon-fiber materials also significantly increased with increased hydrogen concentrations, whereas the burn rate of the seat-cover fabric remained relatively constant for all concentrations.
This report summarizes the research effort undertaken by the FAA to determine any differences in occupant survivability during a simulated post-crash fire when using thermoplastic paneling located in the lower seating area that meets current heat release rate requirements versus paneling that does not meet the current heat release rate requirements. The heat release requirement is based on the Ohio State University (OSU) Rate of Heat Release Test Method.
Two full-scale tests were conducted in the Full-Scale Fire Test Facility at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The full-scale tests were conducted with a large external fuel fire adjacent to a B-707 narrow-body aircraft fuselage, which simulated a severe but survivable accident in which the fire entered the cabin through a simulated fuselage rupture. The fuselage was instrumented with thermocouples, gas-sampling lines, heat flux transducers, and smoke meters to monitor conditions during the test. The fuselage was also outfitted with flat honeycomb panels installed as sidewalls, stowage bins, and ceiling, and four simulated triple seats constructed of steel angle.
The upper section of the seats contained fire-hardened seat-cushion bottoms and backs that met current FAA flammability requirements, and the lower area contained thermoplastic sheet material on the aft and side areas. During the initial test, thermoplastic paneling that met the current FAA heat release requirements was used, whereas, during a second test, the thermoplastic paneling did not meet current requirements. The tests determined that the use of the noncompliant paneling resulted in more hazardous conditions late in the test.
These conditions were determined using a fractional effective dose model, using temperature and gas data collected during the tests.