According to the FAA, there have been 113 battery fire incidents on passenger and cargo planes between 1991-2010. There is a battery fire incident every two months in the airline industry.
Batteries as Weapons?
Airline industry is concerned that terrorists could use such batteries to create a fire by putting together a slew of batteries. Is this a credible scenario?
Irrespective of the answer, looking at the frequency of incidents and the concern amongst airlines and passengers, you will see some new rules about batteries on planes.
How About Check-In Batteries?
A lithium battery can be deliberately set on fire but a lithium batteries can spontaneously catch fire. Checking-in the batteries can lead to fire in the cargo compartment. In February 2006, a cargo hold fire destroyed a UPS jet at Philadelphia airport.
Luckily the majority of the airline battery fire incidents have not resulted in severe consequences. But think about applications where a large amount of lithium batteries are required – e.g. electric or hybrid cars, cable boxes, grid storage.
If we are worried about cell phone and laptop batteries, what about crash-worthiness of a battery operated car?
In addition to controling quality at battery manufacturing phase to minimize fire risks , consideration has to be given to battery fires during operation and handling.