How Do We Get to Electric Aviation? Here's the Plan

·2 min read

LEMONT, Ill., September 21, 2021--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A forward-thinking white paper by the Argonne Collaborative Center for Energy Storage Science (ACCESS) outlines battery requirements and research and development (R&D) needs to accelerate the commercialization of electric air propulsion—from air taxis in the near-term to 737 class aircraft in the long-term.

The white paper is the result of a meeting with nearly 100 experts from aircraft, car, materials and battery companies as well as component makers and academic and national lab researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory. It was convened by DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Glenn Research Center.

Estimates suggest that a new mode of aviation services called Urban Air Mobility, or sometimes Advanced Air Mobility, will be a $9 billion market by 2030 and could be an $80 billion market by 2041. The paper explores four electric aircraft concepts: air taxis, 20-passenger commuter aircrafts, 50-passenger regional jets and 150-passenger 737 class aircraft. For the air taxi and commuter aircraft, the paper calls for evaluating next-generation lithium-ion chemistries for aviation and examining failure modes and safety. For regional jets, the paper recommends augmenting R&D in solid-state batteries to explore new designs, manufacturing approaches and high-temperature operation. For 737 class aircraft, the paper suggests studying high-energy systems, including sulfur-based batteries and hydrogen carriers.

In addition, numerous startups focus on innovations around electric aviation. This includes Uber Elevate that aims to provide affordable shared flights by 2023. Also, automotive companies, including Daimler, Toyota, Hyundai and Porsche are getting involved in aviation startups.

"The gains in cost, performance and safety found in today’s Li-ion batteries used for electric vehicles are due in a major way to DOE’s R&D directed research over the last ten years," said Dave Howell, acting director of VTO. "Considering the maturity, diversity and innovativeness of that research, DOE has every expectation that similar success will occur for the energy storage needs of electrified aircraft."

Argonne remains committed to driving the electrification of aviation and has encouraged industry leaders to share ideas that would help them reach shared goals. Argonne has a storied history of battery and energy storage innovations. The lab has helped revolutionize the lithium-ion battery, which became a game changer for the auto industry, noted Argonne Associate Lab Director Suresh Sunderrajan.

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Christopher J. Kramer
Head of Media Relations
Argonne National Laboratory
Office: 630.252.5580

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