Tesla CEO Elon Musk Offers Help To Boeing On Battery Problems

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Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

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He has his eyes on space, and is changing the world of automobiles with his Tesla electric cars--but now Elon Musk is offering a hand to Boeing, too.

The Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] CEO tweeted Saturday that he was in talks with the chief engineer of Boeing's Dreamliner 787 aircraft, currently grounded after a series of problems.

Reuters reports that Musk has offered lithium-ion battery packs from his SpaceX rocket program to Boeing, whose GS Yuasa-designed packs have caused a series of fires--thankfully, none of which have caused any injuries.

Boeing's 787 is one of the most advanced airliners in the world, made from composites to save weight, and using lithium-ion batteries to power electronics and as a backup, rather than powering them from engine load--saving fuel.

Unfortunately, the several packs have overheated, leading the FAA to ground the 50 aircraft in service until changes can be made to ensure the aircraft's safety.

As we noted a few weeks back, the packs used are of a different chemistry to those used in electric cars, and aircraft batteries present a unique series of challenges--so lithium-ion batteries on their own aren't solely to blame. That said, the lithium-ion cobalt chemistry used in the Dreamliner isn't dissimilar from that used in Tesla's first electric vehicle, the Roadster.

According to Business Insider, the Japanese transport ministry has found no issue with GS Yuasa's batteries--and investigations are still ongoing into how the issues started.

In an email, Musk told Reuters, "We fly high capacity lithium ion battery packs in our rockets and spacecraft, which are subject to much higher loads than commercial aircraft and have to function all the way from sea level air pressure to vacuum. We have never had a fire in any production battery pack at either Tesla or SpaceX."

Boeing has declined to comment on the matter, or confirm whether such talks were taking place.


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Comments (5)
  1. Elon is talking and Boeing Execs. are quietly pretending to listen.

  2. So far, history has shown that you ignore Elon at your own risk.

  3. whatever he has to say is overshadowed by his string of failures covered over by political donations to obama and his brigades of P R Stunt masters.

  4. Anthony:

    You may have reported it. But the chemistry is NOT different than that used in electric cars. In fact, it is almost identical to the chemistry used in the NCR18650A and B cells from Panasonic that are used in the TEsla Model S.

    Indeed the cells, and the chemistry, do not appear to be the problem. Once again, a well intended "battery management system" appears to be the culprit.

    I think they would do well to use Musk's packs from the SpaceX. They undoubtedly already have FAA approval. That's the problem for Boeing. It's not finding a battery that WORKS so much as getting one APPROVED. particularly at this point.

    Jack Rickard

  5. what he is going to talk them into operating properly, with his breath it might etch away the problem, or could it be a problem with a chinese factory, paid by airbus ?

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