Airbus is starting up testing on a new high-voltage lithium-ion battery system that will be used to power the EcoPulse demonstrator aircraft.
Under development for several years, the battery can achieve 800 volts DC and deliver 350 kilowatts, enough to power the six electric motors on the EcoPulse, whose airframe is being assembled by Daher. This represents a quantum leap from the power output of batteries currently in use on aircraft.
The new battery, which weighs 770 pounds (350 kilograms), contains several unique features, according to Julien Laurent, Airbus’s battery project leader. He noted that the unit, which was designed in-house, includes several thousand lithium-ion cells incorporating safety measures to prevent thermal runaway. “Another innovative part is the active cooling system, which ensures the optimum temperature for normal operations,” he said, adding that the battery includes a management system. “This helps to minimize maintenance thanks to its built-in test features and ability to highlight the charge status or whether the cells need to be rebalanced.”
Following a test regimen at Airbus’s Toulouse, France facility, the battery will be installed in the EcoPulse. It is expected to make its first flight by the end of the year.