Alfa Romeo starts production of its first plug-in hybrid; Tonale offers 30 miles electric range
New combustion system for ethanol/octanol dual fuel combination reduces soot, increases efficiency

BAE Systems and Heart Aerospace to collaborate on battery for electric airplane

BAE Systems and Heart Aerospace, a Swedish electric airplane maker, will collaborate to define the battery system for Heart’s ES-30 regional electric airplane. The battery will be the first of its kind to be integrated into an electric conventional takeoff and landing (eCTOL) regional aircraft, allowing it to operate efficiently with zero emissions and low noise.

23_a84_Heart_Aerospace_ES-30_press_release

BAE Systems and Heart Aerospace announced a collaboration to define the battery system for Heart’s ES-30 regional electric airplane. (Credit: BAE Systems)


The program will leverage more than 25 years of BAE Systems’ expertise in electrifying large, heavy-duty industrial vehicles. Today, the company has more than 15,000 power and propulsion systems operating in service across the globe. Work on the program will be conducted at the company’s facility in Endicott, New York.

-JcJNWXE

The ES-30 airplane will be powered by four electric motors, and has an all-electric range of 200 kilometers, an extended reserve hybrid range of 400 kilometers with 30 passengers and ability to fly up to 800 kilometers with 25 passengers.

8c6ecf1e09fcecbd_org-1-2500x1406

The ES-30 will also have a cost-effective and scalable upgrade path as future battery technology matures. The battery upgrade roadmap allows for increased usable energy at the same weight, resulting in longer flight durations and expanded route options.

Heart Aerospace has a total of 230 orders and 100 options for the ES-30, along with letter of intent for an additional 108 airplanes.

Comments

Davemart

Here is a link to a French hybrid VTOL, Atea:

https://www.ascendance-ft.com/products/#atea

Its basically more or less a conventionally shaped aircraft, with lifting fans placed around it.

Being hybrid, it can cover longer distances and still save a lot of fuel and emissions.

mahonj

It strikes me that the way to use this is to have a 1/2 size battery which allows the plane to go further or carry more passengers (or fuel) while using the electric drive as a green fig leaf.
It would also be very quiet while landing and taking off, which is a genuine benefit.
They might be able to use it at night near cities, in that case.

Davemart

I don't think prospects are as grim as that, Jim.

The fuel savings to offset against costs for batteries, reduced load etc are substantial, so I don't think it is just a case of fig leaves.

Paroway

A couple of years of short range then longer range will come along. You have to start somewhere.

Roger Pham

The funny thing here is that many airlines would not let you carry on board Li-ion batteries of certain sizes, for fear of spontaneous combustion...If you live in Hawaii, it is very hard to order Li-ion battery shipped to you by air...And here, this plane carry a humongous battery capacity, presumably Li-ion?
Unless the battery is NOT Li-ion chemistry, or there is some sort of cognitive dissonance here! I would NOT take a flight in this plane, for sure.

Davemart

Hi Roger.
The flammability of lithium ion batteries is of course problematic, but there is a difference between carrying anyone's batteries in the body of the plane or the cargo hold, and using a pack designed for purpose and specifically against fire hazard.

Roger Pham

Hi Dave,
Good point. Furthermore, I see that the battery is mounted on the bottom of the plane that could be ejected in case of fire...in which case, the plane will have to glide down to the ground without power that may offer chances of survival! So, a better option than being burned to death.

I would much rather see the use of ultra-light Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) insulated by ultra-light-weight polyurethane foam that would much improve the aircraft payload capacity. The Hydrogen could be burned in the turboprop engines, thus requiring no change in propulsion method, and the LH2 could be stored in long cylindrical cylinders surrounded by polyurethane foam insulation that would further give longitudinal strength to the plane, reducing structural weight, on the bottom of the plane, the same way this battery is stored, thus, no loss of internal space.

Roger Pham

I would like to add further that the battery capacity could be divided into at least 2 discreet modules longitudinally, so that in case of fire breaking out in 1 module, that module could be ejected while the other module can still power the aircraft to a safe landing. The modules are divided longitudinally so that there will be no change in weight balance of the aircraft should 1 module need to be ejected.

In the case of the LH2 fuel tanks, these could also be made modular, and ejectable individually, in case of leakage, in order to prevent fire from consuming the aircraft. When ditching off airport is required, for example, due to multi-engine failure, all the H2 tanks could be ejected prior to landing thus preventing fire-hazard.
With smart design, alternative-energy aircraft can be made just as safe as traditional aircraft.


Davemart

Hi Roger.

Many systems are being electrified in aircraft, not just electric ones.
And hydrogen aircraft usually although not always have a lithium battery as part of the system.
In addition, for short range light aircraft batteries seem to be pretty indisputably the optimum solutions, without the hassles and cost of dealing with hydrogen.
When the range or payload requirements go up, then hydrogen comes into the picture, but as I note that probably does not avoid the need to manage lithium batteries.

So until more inherently safe batteries come along, we still have to manage.

Here is a video on the issue:

https://www.dspace.com/en/inc/home/learning-center/recordings/learning-bits/video_lb_batteryaircraft.cfm

Davemart

And an article:

https://www.electrive.com/2022/10/09/as-aviation-goes-electric-how-do-you-ensure-safety-and-expedite-regulation/

' Fortunately, these issues can be overcome through the use of effective hazard containment systems. This would address the safety concerns of both regulators and the general public, but solving the safety problem creates a new problem of additional weight on the aircraft. AEA are highly weight-sensitive due to the poor energy density of batteries compared to jet fuel. While the issue with current battery limitations is a significant engineering challenge, many aircraft manufacturers are confident that a breakthrough will be made in the next few years. (As for hydrogen-powered planes, this is our detailed report.)

Another safety issue concerns the increasing use of embedded electrical systems in aircraft. Components such as air-conditioning, cabin pressurization, de-icing, landing gear, and brake systems have traditionally been powered by pneumatic, hydraulic, or mechanical systems. Nowadays, it’s becoming more common to see these components being electrically powered. The benefits of these “more electric aircraft” (MEA) include weight and fuel-consumption reduction, lowered maintenance costs, and noise reduction.'

So there is a weight, and a cost penalty, as is likely for any system designed to have high specs, for instance military grade as opposed to civilian grade equipment, but IMO so long as appropriate regulation and controls are in place the issue of battery safety can be dealt with in electric aircraft.

Both the battery and its checks will hopefully be a great deal more robust than in the old Sony laptops!

I am more concerned with issues such as fires in EV cars in tunnels or on ferries, where the design and cost of the battery systems is likely to be way less robust than for aircraft batteries.

Gryf

Definite doubts that the ES-30 or any Hybrid Electric aircraft will see widespread development or production.
Aviation projects like SWIFT (Sustainable Water-Injecting Turbofan Comprising Hybrid-Electrics) which will only be a mild hybrid for Taxi and part of Takeoff, and the Boeing Transonic Truss-Based Wing should have wide applications particularly as SAF and Electrofuels come into use.
References:
https://leehamnews.com/2022/11/29/mtu-gets-support-from-pratt-whitney-to-develop-the-wet-engine/
https://www.gknaerospace.com/en/newsroom/news-releases/2022/clean-aviation-switch-project-to-advance-hybrid-electric-and-water-enhanced-turbofan-technologies/
https://aviationweek.com/air-transport/aircraft-propulsion/nasa-picks-boeings-transonic-truss-based-wing-sustainable-x-plane

Davemart

Hi Gryf!

On the specifics of safety hazards of lithium batteries on aircraft, both for powering them and concerning the rather different issues of the increasing electrification of other systems on board, what is your take on how containable the problems are?

Gryf

A very good, detailed analysis of AEA and MEA safety considerations can be found in this article:
“A review of safety considerations for batteries in aircraft with electric propulsion”
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1557/s43577-021-00097-1
Some excerpts:
“Currently, aviation regulatory bodies rely on a standard published by RTCA Inc. (formerly known as Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics) in 2017, called DO-311A to specify the mandatory testing and compliance requirements for rechargeable batteries used in aircraft.”
“ The majority of these reported incidents are related to the failure mode of thermal runaway, either with or without internal shorts, where an exothermic reaction and ignition in one cell cascades into similar exothermic reactions in neighboring cells and eventually a critical portion of the battery pack itself.”
“ The arrangement of cells within the pack and the thermal management systems are crucial in the mitigation of excess heat generation from certain cells. The X-57 battery pack was tested with trigger cells and reportedly the fire from one cell did not propagate to other cells.”
“ Pack design and by extension the battery management system affects the ability to monitor the state-of-charge (SoC) and state-of-health (SoH) of individual cells. The SoC and SoH of individual cells determines the extent to which functional safety such as a sufficient and reliable supply of power can be controlled.”
Another good safety article about a fire on the Boeing 787:
How Lithium Ion Batteries Grounded the Dreamliner
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-lithium-ion-batteries-grounded-the-dreamliner/
And a Boeing 787 Battery discussion:
https://787updates.newairplane.com/787-Electrical-Systems/Batteries-and-Advanced-Airplanes

Battery problems are containable, though pack design is critical. However, we need safer electrolytes, probably solid state electrolytes. All future aircraft will be “More Electric” like the 787. However, once a battery exceeds several tons which would be required for larger aircraft with longer range then problems are compounded.
While engineers like to scale up systems, e.g. Boeing 707 to the Boeing 747, components need to be reviewed in many aspects and safety is one of them.

Davemart

Thanks for that Gryf.
It pretty well confirms what I had guessed.
My own view is that fuel cells will do the job instead of really large batteries, whether they run on hydrogen or whatever.

The comments to this entry are closed.