TOKYO, Japan: A new high-density electric battery developed in Japan has the potential to power electric airplanes, according to industry officials.
Backed by conglomerate SoftBank, researchers from Japan's National Institute for Materials Science have developed a lithium-air battery with a record-breaking energy density of more than 500 watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg).
According to a study published in the journal Materials Horizons, the new battery has almost double the energy density of the battery used in Tesla's Model 3 electric vehicle, achieving the highest energy densities and longest cycle life of any battery and can be charged and discharged at room temperature.
Due to these properties, when the batteries are available commercially they could be used in mobile phones, electric cars, and potentially in electric passenger planes, as well as in drones, electric vehicles, and household electricity storage systems.
According to an initial Forbes report, the new battery has an energy density of more than 500 Wh/kg, which is significant since engineers regard it as the point at which the development of regional electric passenger aircraft, which are sustainable, efficient, and close-to-silent, becomes possible.
"The figures they are talking about are interesting because they are at that pinch point where it will become feasible to have a medium distance electric flight. That is a bit of a holy grail," said Patrick Wheeler, Global Director of the Institute of Aerospace Technology, as quoted by Forbes.
"What this does is give us a battery that is significantly better in energy storage than we have today," he added.
Researchers must now develop higher-performance battery materials that they can integrate into the novel lithium-air battery to increase its cycle life, in order to put them to commercial use.