Airbus’ High-Voltage Cell to Usher 100% Electric Flying

Image Credit: Airbus

Airbus says the assembly of its first electric-powered aircraft platform is underway, and soon, the first test flight of the EcoPulse demonstrator model will take place. This project was developed in partnership with Daher and Safran, who designed and realized the airframe and hybrid propulsion system, respectively. Airbus has designed the battery, and this is precisely the component it focuses on in its latest press release.

The battery dimensions are 2.3m x 0.75 m x 0.2 m, making it compact enough to fit under the fuselage while also featuring an aerodynamic shape. This is a lithium-ion cell weighing 350 kg (770 lbs) and supplying 800 volts of DC power to the 350 kW motors.

As seen in the image above, the battery cells and the management system that monitors its health and operational status are housed inside a protective housing that is firmly anchored on the fuselage. A high-performance cooling system ensures that it’s running at optimal temperatures while each cell is connected with separate wire bonding, so all in all, the chances of thermal runaway resulting in catastrophic bulking, fire, or explosion are minimized.

Airbus comments that the particular battery is enough to drive EcoPulse’s six electric propulsors, but is also ideal for powering the secondary systems of airliners, which is the application the aircraft maker is exploring in parallel. Currently, these systems use nickel-cadmium 28-volt batteries, which Airbus would like to phase out. Additionally, the aircraft maker will develop other cell types for non-propulsive systems like the air conditions units, the auto flight units, the flight controls, and other subsystems that require energy to operate.

At this time, the battery development is at its final stage of vendor selection, performing testing, and evaluating all prototypes, but the design, energy density, performance, and safety requirements have been set.

Bianca Van der Watt

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