Tue. May 28th, 2024
  • The Solid-state Architecture Batteries for Enhanced Rechargeability and Safety (SABERS) initiative is exploring advanced battery technology to drive electric flight capabilities.
  • The US-based initiative, a joint venture between NASA, Georgia Institute of Technology, Argonne National Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, is developing a battery that is inherently safe, energy-dense, and facilitates rapid recharge.

Electric flight holds a robust potential for the future, but the current lithium-ion battery technology lacks the capacity to fully harness this potential. Existing battery technology supports short flights in small craft but falls short in terms of performance, safety requirements, and energy storage, which are required for mainstream electric flight.

The SABERS initiative has been developing a battery that would address these discrepancies. The researchers have used different materials and construction methods to devise an innovative battery technology. They’ve developed a solid-state sulfur-selenium battery and employed a bipolar configuration. The battery, composed of individual cells within a single casing, uses a lithium metal anode, solid-state electrode, and a sulfur and selenium cathode. The energy is derived from sulfur and selenium particles in a graphene mesh.

The new configuration has increased the energy density and reduced the overall weight of the battery, allowing for easier scalable and economical production. The battery, unlike its lithium-ion counterparts, does not catch fire or overheat quickly and performs well under stressful environments. It’s capable of reaching higher temperatures, offering enhanced safety. Furthermore, tests have shown that even if the battery gets severely damaged, it can continue to operate.

Thus far, the SABERS battery has achieved twice the energy density of previous designs, with potential improvements anticipated. Despite these advancements, there is still a long way until the battery can power larger, single-aisle aircraft for extended flights. Researchers are using computational modeling and machine learning techniques on a digital twin to find ways to further improve the battery’s design and fulfill the energy requirements necessary for powered flights of longer duration.

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