NBAA: True Blue release new line of lithium ion batteries for aviation market

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Wichita, Kansas-based True Blue Power has released a new line of lithium ion batteries for the aviation market. The subsidiary of Mid-Continent Instruments also will host a series of seminars to explain lithium ion battery technology, and reassure skeptics created by the four-month grounding of the 787 earlier this year and other incidents.

“We feel very good about all this information,” says Todd Winter, president and chief executive of True Blue Power. “We feel that it’s reputable. We have trusted but verified. We have done a tremendous amount of testing. We have done a tremendous amount of research.”

The True Blue battery system relies on A123 lithium ion cells. An A123 battery was originally installed on the Cessna CJ4, but the manufacturer removed them after a battery-related fire destroyed an aircraft on the ground.

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Winter declines to comment on the CJ4 incident, but is confident that A123 and the battery industry has learned from such incidents and moved on. “It’s everything you would want done to the product that would be on your airplane and your best friend’s airplane,” Winter says. The two batteries – a 44amp-hour TB44 and the 17amp-hour TB17 – are made safer than previous lithium ion batteries by design.

Instead of using a handful of densely-packed large cells, the True Blue Power integrates 152 A123 battery cells.

The configuration reduces the chances of any single cell overheating and spilling over into adjacent cells, in a phenomenon called thermal runaway.
A123 also uses a chemistry an iron phosphate-based chemistry that is inherently safer than metallic chemistries, such as cobalt dioxide, Winter says.
True Blue Power plans to apply for a technical service order certification by the end of the year, with deliveries to aircraft manufacturers starting even before.

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