CATL's new 500 Wh/kg battery pack could power airplanes, claims company

The battery could enter production as early as this year.
Ameya Paleja
New generation electric batteries could soon power airplanes too
New generation electric batteries could soon power airplanes too


Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited, or CATL, a well-known name in the electric battery manufacturing industry, has announced a new 500Wh/ kg battery pack, one which it claims could power airplanes. The company made the announcement at the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition, popularly known as Auto Shanghai.

The energy density of a battery is an important factor considered while developing new models since higher energy densities can allow vehicles to become lighter and travel further. The 500Wh/kg capacity battery means that each kilogram of the battery weight can pack 500Wh of energy.

In comparison, a Tesla Model Y's battery can pack only 244 Wh/kg, lesser than half of the newly announced battery.

What CATL has to say about its battery

As per reports, the new battery from CATL is a semi-solid state battery that uses a condensed electrolyte, which has helped it push up its energy density. The company claims that its "condensed" battery features innovations in "ultra-high energy density cathode materials, innovative anode materials, separators as well as manufacturing processes."

To improve the performance, stability, and efficiency of the battery, the researchers used "highly conductive biomimetic condensed state electrolytes to construct a micron-level self-adaptive net structure that can adjust the interactive forces among the chains."

CATL's new 500 Wh/kg battery pack could power airplanes, claims company
Stock image of an electric battery

The company expects its condensed battery to usher in an era of universal electrification at sea, land, and air transportation and has started working with unnamed partners to develop electric airplanes. Its current work also involves testing the battery for aviation-level standards with regard to safety and quality requirements.

Although details of the battery's performance are still under wraps, the company has claimed that it has excellent "charge and discharge performance" and can achieve mass production of the battery in a very short period of time. By the end of the year, an automotive grade of the battery could be well into production, even though we do not know its exact specifications for now.

CATL has a strong track record of delivering good battery electric technology in the recent past. In 2022, it announced its Qilin battery that could power electric vehicles over 600 miles (1,000 km) on a single charge and had an energy density of 255Wh/kg.

Although the condensed battery is a huge step up in terms of energy density, it is nowhere close to the 12,000 Wh/kg that petrol carries and is unlikely to be able to power the flight of an electric commercial plane anytime soon.

The smaller electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) airplanes are sure to get a boost, though.

This report carried information that appeared in the New Atlas, The Register, and Engadget.

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