Why battery-powered aircraft will never have significant range

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Jay Kempf

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Lithium the element hasn't changed in a loooooooooong time. We still have only one periodic table to use amongst all of us.

So how is this huge orders of magnitude innovation in batteries going to happen? Probably cost but probably not in energy density? or lighter weight safety?
 

ElectricFlyer

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To say never -- thats quitter talk 🤣
We have just started battery research -- I have faith that the holy grail of chemistry will be found. And the backers of the research now this as well and that it will hurdle them into the trillion dollar market place over night once found.
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Bille Floyd

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Lithium the element hasn't changed in a loooooooooong time. We still have only one periodic table to use amongst all of us.
...
Are you inferring , that Lithium is the only element that will ever
be capable of supplying, light battery power, in the future ?

I have a lot of faith in humans ; i'm almost certain that a really
good solution for light batterys , will be found , (soon). Hopefully
a combination of elements that are some-what Stable, when
fully charged ! With the sum total for mans knowledge, doubling
at a rate of every year now ; i feel quite confident in what i just wrote
above.

Bille
 

Dusan

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We have just started battery research
Electric battery research started way before that. First full scale electric car was developed in 1830, 50 years before gasoline engine was even invented. One problem with the batteries is they need to convert the chemical energy directly into electrical energy and the chemical reactants used are all stored inside the battery cell. If the same limitation were imposed on gasoline, the aircraft would need to carry about 15kg of air for each kilogram of gasoline, no wonder lithium batteries energy density is 40 times less than fuel. Fuel cells might be a solution, but they have their own problems. Batteries are so liked because the only thing you need to do is recharge them, electrical network is virtually everywhere. Forget about hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen is hard to store and expensive. Maybe a fuel cell using some sort of synthetic fuel is the future.

With current battery technology the flight time is about an hour. This is not enough for most "missions" as the aircraft are used today, but is reasonable for most of us for how we use our everyday means of transportation - cars. If we replace driving with flying in a small personal vehicle that is capable of VTOL operations, taking of and landing from virtually anywhere - so much time can be saved. The average car speed in urban zones are about 20 miles per hour, much slower in some cases; flying we could replace that with 100 knots.
 

Vigilant1

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With the sum total for mans knowledge, doubling at a rate of every year now
It ain't. The sum total of data stored might be increasing at about that rate, but unless we think cat videos and twitter tweets are knowledge equivalent to the writings of Shakespeare, Euclid, and Newton, then we can't say knowledge is doubling every year.
And wisdom? Look around, it seems to be in decline.
 

Jay Kempf

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Are you inferring , that Lithium is the only element that will ever
be capable of supplying, light battery power, in the future ?

I have a lot of faith in humans ; i'm almost certain that a really
good solution for light batterys , will be found , (soon). Hopefully
a combination of elements that are some-what Stable, when
fully charged ! With the sum total for mans knowledge, doubling
at a rate of every year now ; i feel quite confident in what i just wrote
above.

Bille
Nope, I am saying it took us a long time to get to lithium based batteries that got us the big boom in energy density. I am just not sure where we are going to go to next for the great orders of magnitude energy density in batteries that people are alluding to. Batteries aren't like microprocessors. They aren't doubling in capacity every year and a half.
 

Noeson

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I've checked market research reports and they do not predict a significant drop in cost or increase in performance over the next 5 years for batteries. I concede OP's point, batteries don't have significant range and won't any time soon, if at all.

I don't need significant range for my plane to be very useful though; I live on Vancouver Island, 25 miles of range connects me to the mainland, 100 miles gets me to Seattle and Vancouver and connects me to ten million potential clients. I have to think there are other niches too.

Hydrogen currently offers five times the energy density of batteries, at commercial scale (Toyota Mirai) and I think that's what will ultimately power electric aircraft, the only bottleneck at present is cost.
 

Dan Thomas

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And wisdom? Look around, it seems to be in decline.
There are a couple of generations now that think they can create their own truth just by repeating a lie over and over. Unfortunately, it doesn't work. Reality, which includes physics and chemistry and finance, MUST be addressed.

I will say it again: We've been promised the moon for many decades. We old guys are familiar with the claims of the press, including the old Popular Mechanics and Popular Science and Science Illustrated magazines. Fantastic airplanes and flying cars and revolutionary engines in just about every issue, my whole life. VERY few of them ever achieved actual existence. Journalists have to make a living, along with their employers, and they will hype just about any wild idea to sell copy.

1605198290625.png
 

Speedboat100

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There are a couple of generations now that think they can create their own truth just by repeating a lie over and over. Unfortunately, it doesn't work. Reality, which includes physics and chemistry and finance, MUST be addressed.

I will say it again: We've been promised the moon for many decades. We old guys are familiar with the claims of the press, including the old Popular Mechanics and Popular Science and Science Illustrated magazines. Fantastic airplanes and flying cars and revolutionary engines in just about every issue, my whole life. VERY few of them ever achieved actual existence. Journalists have to make a living, along with their employers, and they will hype just about any wild idea to sell copy.

View attachment 104029
If_195305.jpg

Yes Arthur's space escalator is almost ready.
 

Dana

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Battery energy density isn't an engineering problem that more work will solve, it's a limitation of physics. The number of elements it the periodic table is finite, and we know the energy available in the possible chemical bonds for all those elements.

Hydrogen has a very high mass energy density but a low volumetric energy density even in liquid form, so you need really big tanks... and the required pressure means really big HEAVY tanks. And even then it's difficult to contain, the molecules are so small that they tend to leak through anything.
 

Dan Thomas

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View attachment 104033

Yes Arthur's space escalator is almost ready.
There's a difference. Speedboat. "Science Fiction" has the word FICTION in it, meaning it was sold as fiction, not imminent reality or possibility. A lot of "revolutionary" stuff we read about these days is Fiction sold as Fact. It's maddening, because people believe it and put down fat deposits for, or make investments in, stuff that never materializes. Basically, a scam.
 

BBerson

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Hydrogen has a very high mass energy density but a low volumetric energy density even in liquid form, so you need really big tanks... and the required pressure means really big HEAVY tanks. And even then it's difficult to contain, the molecules are so small that they tend to leak through anything.
A few carbon atoms will compact the hydrogen and make it easier to contain.
 
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blane.c

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So Hydrogen is best used in a leaky dirigible powered by electric motors fueled with battery's and solar cells and crewed by brave personnel wearing flame retardant suits.
 

blane.c

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I think flying near high tension lines with an aircraft made largely of induction coils is sounding better and better.
 
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