Wed. May 29th, 2024

Key Points:

  • The Solid-state Architecture Batteries for Enhanced Rechargeability and Safety (SABERS) initiative, a collaboration between NASA and several other institutions, is developing advanced battery technology to support the future of electric flight.
  • SABERS has designed a battery that is largely non-flammable, lightweight, energy-dense, and capable of quick recharge. It features a unique solid-state sulphur-selenium composition and a bipolar configuration.
  • The new battery can function even when damaged and withstand up to 120°C, unlike lithium-ion counterparts. Current test results indicate SABERS’ battery can achieve a higher energy density than previously thought possible.

SABERS: advanced battery technology for electric flight explores the developments being made in battery technologies to support the mainstream development of electric flight. Current lithium-ion batteries do not meet the performance and safety requirements for large passenger electric flight, only supporting hyperlocal travel and small passenger quantities.

The (SABERS) initiative is a joint venture between NASA, Georgia Institute of Technology, Argonne National Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which aims to develop batteries capable of meeting the performance, safety and energy needs of electric flight.

The SABERS battery design involves a solid-state sulphur-selenium composition with a bipolar configuration. The team utilized NASA’s core material science techniques and technologies to create a battery that’s three times as energy-dense as current lithium-ion batteries, non-flammable, lightweight, and quickly rechargeable. The design involves a lithium metal anode, solid-state electrode, and a sulphur and selenium cathode, with particles arranged in a graphene mesh.

Tests on the prototype battery indicate a high degree of safety and robustness. It can withstand up to 120°C, a significant improvement over previous lithium-ion designs which typically withstand up to 60°C. Moreover, the battery can keep operating even when severely damaged.

Early results demonstrate that the battery has twice the energy density of previous designs, and ongoing work aims to further improve this. However, much work remains to achieve the goal of powering small aircraft for up to potentially 250 miles.

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