Featured image: @TomAbbotDavies1/Twitter
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been talking about the electric plane for a long time. He even said he has an electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft project, though he never went into details about plans to launch it into production.
Musk said that in order for his design to work, it is necessary to increase the specific energy of the batteries. He calculated that lithium-ion batteries would need to reach an energy density of 400 Wh / kg for the batteries to outperform kerosene (Jet A) and for his electric plane to be viable.
Over the past 10 years, the cost of batteries for electric vehicles has dropped significantly. Increasing the cell energy is one way to further reduce the cost, as a higher specific energy will result in fewer materials required for the same total battery energy. However, it is difficult to increase the specific energy beyond the energy density of today's cells, which is approximately 220 Wh/kg using graphite anodes. However, scientists are constantly looking for a solution to this problem.
Today on Twitter, Musk said that 400 Wh/kg with a high cycle rate, produced in volume is not far away. In his opinion, it will become possible in 3-4 years.
400 Wh/kg *with* high cycle life, produced in volume (not just a lab) is not far. Probably 3 to 4 years.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 24, 2020
This statement hints that Musk already has knowledge of the developments that will achieve the desired result and, it is likely that one of Tesla's teams is tackling the issue. The company has been developing and researching batteries for several years now and appears to have achieved some amazing results, which will be unveiled during the September 22nd Battery Day.
Knowing Musk's assertiveness and aspirational drive, I don't doubt for a second that an electric plane will arrive in the relatively near future.
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.