This is the first in a series of articles exploring development of eVTOL batteries.
The eVTOL industry is rapidly evolving, and as a result the acceptance of eVTOL battery use is growing. This is likely fueled by the increasing interest in electric aviation for urban air mobility and shorter flights. At a cell level, the focus is on finding ways to improve the material chemistry of lithium-ion batteries to increase the cell energy density by 30 percent.
Many companies are working to develop new cell chemistries, such as cells with silicon anode that have the potential to deliver the required energy density. But the majority of these chemistries are still in the technology demonstration phase or early-stage pilot scale development manufacturing phase, says Puneet Sinha, senior director, battery industry at Siemens Digital Industries Software, Plano, Texas.
Design of an eVTOL battery.
A number of companies and battery suppliers are working at the product design level to develop new batteries that will meet the operating requirements for eVTOLs while also ensuring safety and compliance with all FAA requirements. As they are able to deliver new technologies that are safe, FAA compliant and meet the operating demands of eVTOLs, we will see increased acceptance by the aircraft industry and in time the general public as well.
Some of the eVTOL companies are exploring hybrid power solution such as use of H2 fuel cells paired with a smaller battery. The ability to offer longer flight time beyond and faster charge time than what today’s commercially available Li-ion battery can deliver is a key motivation to pursue such hybrid solutions. Such an approach, however, brings its own challenges such as additional complex controls and power sharing, and safe handling of not only battery but also hydrogen. Increased system complexity may add to the challenges for system certification and cost.