Undetected Battery Charger Fire

For general discussion with your fellow Minuteman III crewdogs, maintainers and cops. Currently based at Minot AFB, ND, Malmstrom AFB, MT, and F. E. Warren AFB, WY. Formerly based at Grand Forks AFB, ND. Operational from 17 Apr 1970 to present. Share your stories and meet up with an old friend.

Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby Ducky on Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:50 am

We have to test the air now everytime we go downstairs. Thats a new pen requirement based off of this incident. And if the air is bad, we have explosive proof purge gear (fans with ducting) to clear the bad air out of the LER. If we absolutely HAVE to be downstairs, and we dont have purge gear, we always carry the same airpacks firefighters wear.
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby SAC_COP on Tue Nov 04, 2008 3:05 pm

Ducky wrote:We have to test the air now everytime we go downstairs. Thats a new pen requirement based off of this incident. And if the air is bad, we have explosive proof purge gear (fans with ducting) to clear the bad air out of the LER. If we absolutely HAVE to be downstairs, and we dont have purge gear, we always carry the same airpacks firefighters wear.


Gotcha, but that still doesn't answer the main question, that being why aren't they continually venting with outside air instead of recycling? Is it due to financial savings (keeping the LF at a constant temperature being cheaper by recycling instead of having to constantly heat/cool the outside air to maintain temp), or is there some other reason?
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby J Davis on Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:56 pm

SAC_COP wrote:
Ducky wrote:We have to test the air now everytime we go downstairs. Thats a new pen requirement based off of this incident. And if the air is bad, we have explosive proof purge gear (fans with ducting) to clear the bad air out of the LER. If we absolutely HAVE to be downstairs, and we dont have purge gear, we always carry the same airpacks firefighters wear.


Gotcha, but that still doesn't answer the main question, that being why aren't they continually venting with outside air instead of recycling? Is it due to financial savings (keeping the LF at a constant temperature being cheaper by recycling instead of having to constantly heat/cool the outside air to maintain temp), or is there some other reason?


During my time 1985-2000, we were required to sample the air due to MMH used in the PSRE, and because of the Lithium Batteries (before they were removed). I would guess the reason there is not a mass air exchange in the LERs/Launch Tube is due to hardness considerations. It would require an eloborate system to effectively block EMP and overpressure through air ducts.

SAC Cop--don't worry about asking questions! I appreciated the SET cops who helped dig out the PAH, raise equipment, and load the truck. Based on your interest in this forum, I would bet you would have been one of the good cops who helped where he could and not one of the ones who kept asking "how much longer." Having good cops on a dispatch could make or break the day.
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby SAC_COP on Tue Nov 04, 2008 8:10 pm

J Davis wrote:During my time 1985-2000, we were required to sample the air due to MMH used in the PSRE, and because of the Lithium Batteries (before they were removed). I would guess the reason there is not a mass air exchange in the LERs/Launch Tube is due to hardness considerations. It would require an eloborate system to effectively block EMP and overpressure through air ducts.

SAC Cop--don't worry about asking questions! I appreciated the SET cops who helped dig out the PAH, raise equipment, and load the truck. Based on your interest in this forum, I would bet you would have been one of the good cops who helped where he could and not one of the ones who kept asking "how much longer." Having good cops on a dispatch could make or break the day.


I appreciate y'all tolerating my questions, as well as your answers.

Back in the day, we all tried to help out where we could when the door was open, not that it was much because of where our "overwatch" posts were. It never was a matter of "how much longer" for us, because we were there for the duration anyway so much as it was a matter of simply accomplishing the mission.
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby Charlie EMT on Thu Nov 06, 2008 2:03 am

SAC_COP wrote:
J Davis wrote:During my time 1985-2000, we were required to sample the air due to MMH used in the PSRE, and because of the Lithium Batteries (before they were removed). I would guess the reason there is not a mass air exchange in the LERs/Launch Tube is due to hardness considerations. It would require an eloborate system to effectively block EMP and overpressure through air ducts
.

regarding the above, I have a question; In the years I was in EMT, the batteries in the LFs and LCFs were the 1/2 ton lead acid types, I recal hearing thet Lithiums were scheduled to replace the lead acids - when this occured I have no clue; yet here I read above the "Lithium Batteries (before they were removed)". Does this mean the Lithium have been since replaced with lead acids - or something else??
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby Ducky on Thu Nov 06, 2008 2:56 am

We have lead acid batts
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby njh621 on Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:29 am

Does the replacement have anything to do with the fact that Li-ion batteries have a tendency to burst into flames when they overheat :lol:? Honestly I'm kind of surprised they swapped out the batteries; Li-ion batteries are a newer technology and boast great storage capacity (but can catch on fire when overheated). Then again, lead acid batteries have proven themselves over the past few decades.
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby Charlie EMT on Thu Nov 06, 2008 11:28 am

Thanks for the reply. I suppose the LI's were yanked because of the fire hazards.... Personally - R&R of the lead acids were not one of my favorite tasks. I'd do an MG anytime (did 3 sites in one day once); I had a latent fear of dumping a battery - or having it jammed up between the ladder and the PAH access tube...
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby Cancellier on Thu Nov 06, 2008 12:29 pm

The Lithium batteries (not Li-ion) were in the sites as a survival power source only. The lead-acids were and are the primary battery strings for the LF and LCC. I don't think the fire hazard was the reason they were removed. They had a tendency to bulge and outgas.
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby Charlie EMT on Thu Nov 06, 2008 12:50 pm

Cancellier wrote:The Lithium batteries (not Li-ion) were in the sites as a survival power source only. The lead-acids were and are the primary battery strings for the LF and LCC. I don't think the fire hazard was the reason they were removed. They had a tendency to bulge and outgas.



Ahh... Well now you've got the curiosity going... Did the Lithiums 'kick-in' when the lead-acid state-of-charge numbers dropped past a certain point? Or did they serve in an assitive, or different manner? And if it's ok to ask, how big, how many, and where were they located in the LER?

Now I'm having a flash-back, but there was one instance where I had to go to a site for an MG replacement; when we started to open the PAH, the smell of burnt electricals came pouring out. We called JC and had them send out a blower with the big yellow hose and some scott air packs because the air was so foul and acidic.

We discovered the MG brushes had dropped while 3-phase was running the MG, and things got fried/smoked. Needless to say there was a fair amount of molten iron spattered on the floor beneath the MG, the underside of the protective screen covering the open area around the brushes had a few melted areas underneate, and a fair amount of carbon residue inside where the brushes had contacted the commutator (which was scarred up) and on the floor.
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby Cancellier on Thu Nov 06, 2008 1:54 pm

OK, understand that I am an Ops guys and this was a while ago, but IIRC we had a 'Survival Power Allow' command that we would send under certain conditions to extend survivability for the LF. We had the batts in Wing VI Deuce, but I am not sure about the AM guys.

The batts were in LER 2. I don't remember much else. I would have to pull my TO and see if it is still in there. We got a bunch of VBs to take it out and I don't remember if the green pages became a white page change later on. If somebody has a Wing VI SELECT book, I bet it is in there...
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby Charlie EMT on Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:18 pm

Thanks Mike.

Interesting that you could command the configuration of the battery power.... Could you verify in anyway that the command worked (msg, idiot lite, etc.)??

Maybe someone from the maintenance world has the answers?
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby J Davis on Thu Nov 06, 2008 4:29 pm

Ok, here is the skinny on the Lithium Batteries as best I can remember.

They were there to supply a charge to the lead acid batteries when the lead acid battery voltage dropped to a "certain" level. They were not a fire hazard, however, did develop buldge/warp issues. There were heat sensitive stickers on the "scrubber" portion, which turned dark if the lithium batteries had been activated (never observed this). The purpose of the scrubber was to remove harmful/dangerous SO2 (I think that was the gas) when or if the batteries vented. (That is one of the gases we sampled with the colormetric gas detector and later the PAM).

They were deemed "not worth the benefit" because of the above issues. Before my time, they were installed in place of some of the lead acid batteries. Once they were removed, lead acid batteries were reinstalled. When I first ran the field as a boot Airman, we inspected them on Pen for a changed heat indicator. Later, we were required during Pen to place a plastic straight-edge gage along the exposed sides and measure the rise of any buldges--then mark the measurement on the battery with a grease pen. We did not have any checkout or troubleshooting procedures, just visual inspection requirements. Also, replacement (if ever necessary) was a Depot-level task.

Hope this clears it up a bit....

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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby Charlie EMT on Thu Nov 06, 2008 7:00 pm

Hey - thanks. Clear now indeed. What a hassle... Replace a few batterys with another set to provide a boosting/backup charge.... Doesn't make a whole lotta sense.
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby njh621 on Thu Nov 06, 2008 7:32 pm

Ah, ok I misunderstand. I was thinking they had replaced the lead-acid packs with Lithium-ion packs (because Li-ion cells are more efficient at storing charges, but get expensive as the cell gets bigger), and then swapped them back. I guess I forgot that Lithium batteries are different from Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. I would like to see them go to Li-ion cells, just because they less of a mess to deal with (although they may be more trouble then they are worth).

The whole idea of using batteries to charge batteries seems redudant, but it will increase run-time. If you connect batteries in parallel you get the voltage/amperage of one battery but the runtime of two. If you connect them in series, you get the runtime of one, but the voltage/amperage of two.
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