Musk is confident that the era of electric aviation will come in 3-4 yearsAugust 28, 2020
The main problem of aircraft designers is gravity, and while fuel-fueled airplanes have learned to overcome it economically, it is still ahead for electric airplanes. The emergence of a full-fledged clean aviation is hindered by the lack of well-established production of batteries with an energy density of at least 400 W * h / kg, Elon Musk believes. And he is sure that such batteries will appear in 3-4 years.
Responding to one of the Twitter users, the head of SpaceX and Tesla Elon Musk said that the environmentally friendly aircraft of the future will require a battery with an energy density of 400 Wh per kilogram. For comparison, the energy density of the best lithium-ion batteries for cars today is 250Wh / kg.
The second condition is that such batteries must be suitable for mass production, and not just laboratory prototypes demonstrating the capabilities of the technology. According to the entrepreneur, such revolutionary developments will appear in three or four years.
In 2008, Musk has already spoken out on the topic of electric aviation. “Electric planes are becoming more real with the development of batteries,” he said. Four years later, Musk announced that he had come up with the design of such an aircraft several years ago. Moreover, he even mentioned the idea when he played a cameo in the 2010 film Iron Man 2. And in an interview in 2016, he explained that this plane will be VTOL – that is, take off and land vertically, writes Inverse.
The main difficulty in the implementation of such a project is the energy density of the battery, or how much energy per kilogram of mass it can hold. This is especially important for airplanes because they have to overcome gravity in order to get up in the air. According to Musk, flying requires so much energy, and landing is largely due to gravity, but takeoff is the most difficult and energy-intensive part of flying.
In March, Samsung specialists reported on the creation of a solid-state battery with an energy density three times higher than that of the best lithium batteries – 900 Wh / L. Moreover, it is much safer than analogues. A week ago, Oxis announced that its engineers had managed to create a safe and high-capacity lithium-sulfur battery with a specific energy density of 470 Wh / kg and a bulk density of almost 800 Wh per liter. The company is confident that it will bring the energy density up to 500 W * h / kg within a year, and up to 800 W * h / kg by 2025. So Musk’s assessment is even a little pessimistic – the mass production of batteries that are needed for electric aviation may begin in a couple of years.
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