St. Petersburg, Florida – While no one really knows what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, its disappearance has sparked debate over whether lithium batteries cause the aircraft to go down.
Airline officials confirm that the aircraft was carrying lithium battery cargo, which is known to have contributed to fatal crashes in the past.
According to a published report, the FAA has recorded more than 140 incidents over the last two decades in which lithium batteries have exploded on aircrafts.
Inside a non-descript warehouse on Morris Street in St. Petersburg, a company called Hybrid Components and Coatings has developed fire-resistant packaging for lithium batteries.
"It's a solution that keeps it from being a runaway situation," said Greg Steinig, vice president of sales for Hybrid Components and Coatings. "It keeps the heat from being transferred to the other batteries."
The lithium batteries are placed in individual slots while one of them is heated to the point of explosion. Normally, when one battery explodes, it ignites the surrounding product, but the remaining batteries remain intact inside the packaging.
"You can package lithium ion batteries in this and transport them safely," said Steinig.
Hybrid Components and Coatings' unnamed product has been on the market for two years, but Steinig said that he has been unable to convince manufactures to purchase the packaging.