Elysian and Delft University of Technology’s Breakthrough
A notable advancement comes from the collaboration between the aerospace startup Elysian and Delft University of Technology. They have challenged the traditional limitations of battery-electric flying by proposing a new design for a 90-passenger, battery-electric aircraft capable of covering 800 km with a battery pack energy density of 360 Wh/kg.
This project, presented at the AIAA SciTech Forum in January 2024, aims for operational status by 2033. Their research has re-examined previous assumptions and introduced new parametric designs for feasible battery-electric aircraft, marking a paradigm shift in the potential of battery electric flight.
Amprius Technologies’ Lithium-ion Batteries
Amprius Technologies has achieved a breakthrough in battery technology for electric aircraft and road vehicles. Their development of a silicon-anode lithium-ion battery that boasts an energy density of 400 Wh/kg and a high discharge rate of 10C represents a substantial leap. This technology enables ultra-fast charging, completing up to 80% charge in under six minutes. These batteries are not only relevant for eVTOL aircraft but also for electric road vehicles, potentially enabling acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in 1.5 seconds.
Wright Electric’s Innovative Battery Development
Wright Electric has initiated a project to produce megawatt-hour-size batteries with an impressive energy density of 1,000 watt-hours per kilogram. This density is about four times that of current lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. Aimed for use in electric aircraft capable of carrying over 100 passengers, these batteries represent a significant step towards decarbonizing commercial aircraft.
Wright Electric’s batteries, which are expected to undergo laboratory testing in 2025, are part of a broader effort to develop electric propulsion options, in collaboration with partners like NASA and EasyJet.
Amprius’s 450 Wh/kg Lithium-ion Batteries
Amprius has also developed a 450 Wh/kg lithium-ion battery, securing orders from three electric aircraft developers. This battery platform, featuring proprietary silicon nanowire anode technology, supports high-power applications like electric airplanes and eVTOL aircraft. Amprius has successfully applied this technology in high-altitude pseudo satellites and drones, like Airbus’s Zephyr solar-powered drone, which completed a 64-day-long mission.
Solid-State Battery Developments
Solid-state batteries represent a promising avenue in electric vehicle technology. Schaeffler Americas, in collaboration with Honda and The Ohio State University Institute for Materials and Manufacturing Research, is contributing to this field.
Their involvement in the EVs4ALL program and other research initiatives aims to develop more affordable and efficient EV batteries, with a focus on solid-state technology. These batteries offer potential advantages like faster charging, longer lifespan, and improved cold-weather performance.
These advancements collectively indicate a bright future for electric flight, with battery technology at the forefront of this transformation. The development of high-density, rapid-charging, and efficient batteries is crucial for the viability of electric aircraft, potentially reshaping the aviation industry in the coming years.