Newtex Industries' Technical Advancements Reduce the Risk of Fatal Lithium Ion Battery Fires Aboard Aircrafts

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While concerns about the threat of fire aboard the 787 Dreamliner gain national attention, Newtex Industries is working to familiarize the airline industry with a solution. For the past few years, Newtex has been collaborating with a major shipping container manufacturer to design and perfect fire containment systems intended to keep passengers and crews safe aboard commercial and cargo aircrafts.

While concerns about the threat of fire aboard the 787 Dreamliner gain national attention, Newtex Industries, headquartered just outside of Rochester, NY, is working to familiarize the airline industry with a solution. Since 1978, Newtex has focused on producing heat resistant textiles for thermal management and fire protection. For the past few years, Newtex has been collaborating with a major shipping container manufacturer to design and perfect fire containment systems intended to keep passengers and crews safe aboard commercial and cargo aircrafts.

Damaged and defective lithium ion batteries are responsible for the majority of fires aboard aircrafts since the early 1990’s. The batteries, used in computers, smart phones, tablets, and the auxiliary power unit of the 787 Dreamliner, can overheat, burst into flames, and spontaneously combust in an event called “thermal runaway.” The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recorded 132 battery related incidents aboard aircrafts between March 20, 1991 and October 9, 2012.

Although media attention is currently focused on the threat of fire aboard commercial aircrafts, the problem is just as serious aboard cargo planes. Ninety percent of lithium ion batteries are made in Asia, so safe transport to world markets is essential. Today, however, the majority of cargo shipping containers are not fireproof, and in many cases, add fuel to fire. In recent years, there have been a number of fatal lithium ion fires aboard air cargo planes.

In 2009, Newtex began working with aviation experts to develop a solution: a lightweight fabric-based system that will contain a lithium ion battery fire until it can safely burn itself out. In the case of a fire aboard a commercial aircraft, a flight attendant equipped with high heat gloves can grab the burning device and enclose it within a small fire containment bag. For cargo planes, Newtex has a developed a fireproof unit load device designed to prevent the spread of fire once a portion of a shipment ignites. Testing has proven the designs’ effectiveness; however, carriers are still evaluating the technology and have yet to fully adopt it.

Newtex’s solutions deploy advanced material technologies, including the new Z-Block™ fire and smoke barrier fabrics, while meeting key federal regulations and federal aviation requirements.

About Newtex:

As the most trusted name in the industry since 1978, Newtex is the pioneer and leading global producer of high temperature textiles for thermal management and fire protection. Our comprehensive product line includes the Zetex®, ZetexPlus®, and Z-Flex® brand names, as well as heat and fire resistant fabrics, insulation fabrics, tapes, ropes, and tubings, which support a broad range of applications that include fire safety, heat shielding, welding protection, insulation systems, expansion joints, and gasketing. Newtex has three operating units: Performance Materials, Engineered Systems, and Extreme Protective Apparel and distributes its products in more than 70 countries. For more information or for a list of Newtex distributors or fabricators in your area, visit http://www.newtex.com or call 800-836-1001. __title__ Newtex Industries' Battery Fire Containment Products]

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Sarah Gulack
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