Chinese battery company CATL has announced the creation of a condensed battery with an energy density of up to 500Wh/kg. The company claims this will enable the powering of passenger aircraft.
In a statement, CATL said that the battery was created at Auto Shanghai. The company claims that it is working with “partners” to develop electric passenger aircraft powered by the battery.
According to the company, the lithium-ion batteries “leverage highly conductive biomimetic condensed state electrolytes to construct a micron-level self-adaptive net structure”. However, specific details on the batteries’ manufacture remain vague.
Until now, attempts to develop commercial-scale electric aircraft have struggled to find batteries able to provide the same amount of energy for their weight as aviation fuel. Alongside this, while fuel can be stored in irregularly-shaped tanks and loses weight as flights progress, batteries are bulky and maintain their mass throughout a journey. Before now the only electric passenger aircraft to be successfully developed has a total capacity of nine people.
Developers have taken a growing interest in semi-solid batteries such as CATL’s new product. Semi-solid batteries have been able to address the stability of chemical interactions and the scale of manufacturing, which have held developments back.
The company claims that its battery incorporates new materials for the anode and cathode, a “condensed electrolyte” and new separators.
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Wu Kai, CATL’s scientist in chief, told reporters that it will be able to start mass production of the condensed matter battery for electric vehicle uses later this year.
A CATL spokesperson said: “The launch of condensed batteries will usher in an era of universal electrification of sea, land and air transportation, open up more possibilities of the development of the industry, and promote the achieving of the global carbon neutrality goals at an earlier date”.
Battery investor James Firth said in a tweet: “What do we not know yet is the cost of these cells, if any critical materials are used, how developed the supply chains for these components are, what the cycle life of the cells are”.