UNIT 2 HVPE.pdf - UNIT 2 RISK AND SAFETY ETHICS...

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Chapter 20 / Exercise 13
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RISK AND SAFETY ETHICS INTRODUCTION Risk is associated with engineering in terms of structures, products, processes and materials used in the construction and operation of engineering structures. Invention and innovation introduce an extra element of risk in the lack of knowledge or ignorance about the operational performance of the new products. Examples are the fires caused by damage or overheating that initially occurred upon the introduction of Li-ion electrical batteries into laptop computers, cellular phones, the Volt electric car by General Motors, the Tesla electric car, and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplane. The Li-ion batteries are prized in many advanced products for their high power and long life, but they have been a consistent source of problems across industries. General Motors ended up dropping the Li-ion batteries from its Malibu car hybrids and went back to the lead-acid batteries, finding them cheaper, taking up less space and lowering the risk of battery fire. Figure 1. Spontaneously-occurring thermal damage in newly-introduced Li-ion batteries Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) battery in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner Japan Airlines airplane, January 7, 2012 at Logan Airport. Source: National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). UNIT 2
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Chapter 20 / Exercise 13
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Figure 2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing of General Motors side impact safety of the Volt electric vehicle. Source: NTHSA. Figure 3. Volt Electric Car battery fix. Source: GM.
Figure 4. Tesla S electric car fire at a highway exit at Kent, Washington. The car hit a “large metallic object” that damaged one of the modules in its liquid -cooled battery pack, which is situated on the underside of the vehicle. The Tesla battery pack is configured as a long, flat slab on the bottom of the car, beneath the passenger compartment and protected by reinforced metal. The case shielding the battery might not have been strong enough to keep the impact from causing a short circuit. Initial attempts to douse the fire were unsuccessful. The fire appeared to be extinguished, then reignited underneath the vehicle. Firefighters had to use a jack to turn the Model S on its side, and then cut a hole in the car to apply water to the burning battery. Possibly unknown to them is that lithium, like sodium is highly reactive with water and air. To ensure a comfortable safety level, engineers are obligated to: 1. Anticipate or predict all the failure modes that can lead to an accident, both at the design and the operational stages. 2. Take into account operational experience and past human and design errors, and incorporate them into their design in view of avoiding catastrophes. Engineers are also bound by law and by professional ethics to adopt the concepts of “informed consent” towards the public about the involved risks in their designs and projects. The penalty for being uninformed about the laws pertaining to risk, or failing to follow them, could be litigation and damages that could bankrupt the offending individuals or their businesses.

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