Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has long spoken about the electric plane. He also said that he has a proposal for an electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL), but he never went into details of plans to bring it into service.
Musk said it’s important to increase the specific energy of the batteries in order for his design to function. He determined that for the batteries to outperform kerosene (Jet A), and for his electric plane to be viable, lithium-ion batteries would need to achieve an energy density of 400 Wh/kg.
Battery prices for electric vehicles have fallen dramatically in the last 10 years. Cell energy is one way of further lowering costs, because a higher specific energy would result in less materials used for the same overall battery capacity. However, it is difficult to increase the specific energy beyond today’s cells’ energy density which uses graphite anodes is about 220 Wh/kg. But scientists are constantly looking for a solution to this problem.
Musk said on Twitter that 400 Wh/kg with a high cycle rate, generated in volume, are not far away. He said this would be possible in 3-4 years.
This assertion indicates that Musk already has awareness of the technologies that will produce the desired result, and one of Tesla’s teams is likely to tackle the issue. For many years now, the company has been designing and testing batteries and appears to have produced some impressive results which will be revealed during the Battery Day September 22nd.
Understanding the assertiveness and aspirational drive of Musk, there is no doubt for a second that in the very near future an electric aircraft will arrive.
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