Chinese battery giant, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. (CATL), has developed a battery so powerful it has the potential to power aircraft.
The company unveiled the 500 watt-hours per kilogram semi-solid state battery at the annual Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition – colloquially referred to as Auto Shanghai – on the 19th of April.
Research into energy-dense batteries has become an increasingly important area of focus for electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers as they allow for increased range without adding to the car’s total weight.
Traditional lithium-ion EV battery packs typically have an energy density of roughly 200-300 watt-hours per kilogram, significantly less than CATLs new creation.
For context, the Tesla 4860 battery that comes standard with the Tesla Model Y, has an energy density of 247 watt-hours per kilogram, meaning it produces half the energy output of CATL’s new condensed material battery for every kilogram it weighs.
The new battery achieves such remarkable efficiency due to its highly-condensed electrolytes and advancements in anode (negative electrode) separator materials and a new, ultra-high-density cathode (positive electrode), the lead scientist for CATL, Wu Kai told the media.
The battery’s massively-improved energy density “breaks the limits” that have limited the electric battery sector to predominantly the automotive industry, Wu added.
The lightweight, powerful nature of the battery makes it the first ideal candidate for use in aviation, according to Wu.
It should be noted, however, that while CATL’s battery comparatively dwarfs the efficiency of its road-going competition, it is still some way off matching the 12 000 watt-hours per kilogram that a petrol-powered aircraft possesses, and it may be some time before commercial airliners move to an all-electric fleet.
CATL has already opened discussions with several parties to ensure the battery meets the notoriously strict safety standards of the aviation sector, Wu told media.
In the meantime, Reuters reports that the company will begin production of a condensed material battery for use in EVs later this year.
The nearly trillion-dollar battery giant also announced plans to achieve carbon neutrality at all of its plants as soon as 2025, and carbon neutrality across its entire battery value chain by 2035.
CATL chairman, Robin Zeng, recently announced the company would commit to reducing harmful emissions in the production chain by as much as 40 per cent.
Since 2019, CATL has made a concerted effort to decarbonise, especially as the firm continues its expansion into the European and American markets, Zeng stated.