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.