Cuberg, a US-based start-up supported by Boeing’s HorizonX and the US Department of Energy, recently released a video of their successful battery test; their lithium metal battery powered quadcopter reported a 70% increase in flight time to a standard lithium-ion powered quadcopter.
Cuberg’s results come from a dissatisfaction with current energy methods. According to Cuberg, the batteries of today are not enough; they don’t store enough energy, can undergo rapid degradation, and weigh too much. The eVTOLs and drones of the future are likely to need a higher performance battery with better safety standards. On top of this, the most prominent issue with lithium-ion batteries is their fire hazard. While the potential to catch fire is incredibly slim in smaller devices, the possibility grows when energy demands are scaled up. When the flammable electrode in a lithium-ion battery is unable to vent the gasses that react with the cathode, the battery can quickly catch on fire and possibly explode, a problem that could be deadly in a drone or eVTOL.
That’s why Cuberg is presenting their own battery. Cuberg has incorporated a thermally stable electrolyte so that even if overheating is present, the battery can remain stable. Another advantage is that their electrolyte can be incorporated into existing lithium-ion batteries. Cuberg states that their mission is to develop a higher performance battery that can serve as a “drop-in solution for off-the-shelf lithium-ion manufacturing equipment” as well, an important factor in order to enter and improve a well established market.
Why it’s important: The current energy methods to power eVTOLs and drones are imperfect. A battery with higher energy density, more security, and potential for easy mass-commercialization will vastly improve performance and have applications in many current markets. One of which would undoubtedly be the UAM market, considering that high safety standards and increased performance are essential needs. Cuberg’s new battery could potentially fill this role.
Sources // Cuberg, Wonderful Engineering