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Boeing Dreamliner probe shifts to battery monitors

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Japanese ministry officials said today they are temporarily shifting their fire investigation of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from a controversial battery to the instrument system that monitors voltage, charging and temperature of the batteries, according to Fox News.

Last week the Federal Aviation Administration indefinitely grounded all 787's after two fires were reported aboard two Japanese airliners. Japanese and American safety experts are looking into the possibility the lithium ion batteries caused the fires.

The batteries, also used in automobiles, laptops and cell phones, can experience a "thermal runaway" reaction. It can cause overheating, smoke and fire. Boeing is the first commercial airline manufacturer to use the battery.

The Washington Examiner reported last week on problems with lithium batteries and how those problems did not prevent President Obama from investing hundreds of millions of tax dollars under his green energy initiative in multiple companies making the energy sources. Several of the firms receiving the aid subsequently went bankrupt.

A federal advisory team recommended as early as 2007 that circuitry tests be conducted to see if it could adversely affect the batteries. Boeing refused the additional tests, according to today's Wall Street Journal.

An MIT professor now recommends Boeing abandon the lithium-ion batteries and replace them with batteries made of nickel metal-hydride (NiMH). It could take a year to switch out the batteries, however, keeping the planes grounded until 2014, according to CNET.

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