NASA begins developing lithium-air batteries for aircraft

NASA begins developing lithium-air batteries for aircraft

NASA officially announced the launch of a project to experimentally develop lithium-air batteries for aircraft as part of the concept «Green aviation».

Through joint study with Boeing, the agency determined that for general aviation, the power density of the device should exceed 400 W / kg, and for commercial regional air travel, the figure should be more than 750 W / kg. Modern lithium-ion batteries have a density of 200 W / kg, and due to fundamental chemical constraints, they will be able to increase efficiency by a maximum of 50%, so they are not suitable for use in future aircraft.

Additional requirements for drives include high power, rechargeable capability, and safety. However, there are no suitable ready-made solutions now, and most companies focus on reducing the cost of producing batteries for electric vehicles. Therefore, NASA decided to organize its own team to develop a lithium-air battery technology with a theoretical energy density of 3400 W / kg, which is the maximum known indicator..

For this, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States attracted leading experts from Stanford, Berkeley and IBM, and other organizations. A supercomputer was used to create and process the models. The goal of the project is to use cutting-edge discoveries in materials science, electrochemistry and battery design to develop improved compatible cathode and electrolyte materials, create several prototypes of lithium-air cells and conduct a demonstration flight using them.. 

NASA begins developing lithium-air batteries for aircraft

The team will focus primarily on solving the problem of electrolyte degradation during operation, which leads to the destruction of the battery after several charge / discharge cycles. NASA expects that finding optimal components and design principles for new battery cells will help solve the problems of not only air vehicles, but also ground vehicles. However, complete development and plans to provide finished samples only by 2040.

Recently Toyota Motors and Panasonic agree to create a joint venture to produce solid-state batteries for cars with 50 times the capacity of existing storage.

text: Ilya Bauer, photo: hsto

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