April 2nd, 2018 by Nicolas Zart
It sounds as if the electric aviation news industry has somewhat tapered down, giving a chance for other competing electric mobility industries to make it into the limelight. But that doesn’t mean that the electric aviation industry is sitting idly either. In fact, Sion Power just announced a “breakthrough” in its Licerion lithium battery chemistry.
Licerion Lithium Battery Takes A Shot At Electric Aviation
Sion Power made quite a stir when it announced it was ready for the production of its patented Licerion rechargeable lithium metal battery by late 2018 in its Tucson, Arizona facility. As to what a Licerion rechargeable lithium battery is, that’s a good question. Sion Power claims that it is 60% lighter than conventional Li-ion batteries, which could seriously boost the potential of electric aviation and the company’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) products. It supposedly offers a mouthwatering 500 Wh/kg, 1,000 Wh/L, and 450 cycle battery. And the best part is that if these numbers are good enough for the electric aviation industry, they surely are even better for road-bound electric vehicle (EV) markets.
Still, we need more details. This isn’t an April 1 joke, but it’s also unclear how good the offer is and what might be missing. Individually, the Licerion cells measure 10 cm x 10 cm x 1 cm (roughly 4″ x 4″ by .3″) and offer 20 Ah for the highest energy density combination currently available. At the core, a metallic lithium thin-film anode was designed with a host of physical and chemical levels of protection to enhance the safety and the lifespan of its lithium batteries. By combining these anodes with traditional lithium-ion intercalation cathodes, the company hopes to not only reach these high-energy-density numbers but to have them manufactured by year-end.
Tracy Kelley, Chief Executive Officer of Sion Power, recently stated, “Over the last decade Sion Power, and our research partner BASF, have strategically focused on meticulous research and development of a next-generation lithium battery. … The result of our team’s efforts will be seen in a safe lithium metal battery that is in a class by itself. We are on track to deliver product to a select group of partners by the end of 2018.”
The Never-Ending Quest For High-Energy-Density Batteries
Over the past decade, we’ve seen a few prospective battery chemistries vie for the lucrative newly budding EV market — from lithium-air, to sulfur, to mysterious solid-state batteries. Although each has their pros and cons, the results have always been decidedly better than what the current generation of batteries could offer. Once ironing out the last technological hurdles, mass manufacturing needs to be solved and eventually begin. This is where the wheat is separated from the chaff.
With various new batteries demonstrating what seems to be excellent performance for EVs, once thing is becoming more and more clear — there isn’t a silver-bullet approach that is a perfect solution for EVs, not even a silver buckshot. On the contrary, there are and will continue to be many good approaches.
If it is to work out as dreamed and pitched, though, the Sion Power Licerion battery could be one of the first to bring commercial electric flight to the mass market. Maybe. Perhaps. We’ll see.