An Israeli aircraft company is claiming its prototype all-electric plane can carry six to nine passengers and two crew up to 965 kilometres on a single charge. That’s enough to fly from Toronto to Quebec City with electrons to spare.
EViation Aircraft showed off its prototype at the 52nd International Paris Air Show. And while the aircraft stayed on the ground in Paris, Electrek reports the company is “already flying proof-of-concept missions, and plans to move into certification and commercialization as soon as next year.”
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The key to the aircraft’s range is an unconventional battery that claims a breakthrough in energy density. “Electric air transport has been limited by the energy density of batteries,” Electrek observes. It cites the opinion of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has said his own plans for an electric aircraft depend on battery energy densities above 400 watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg). By comparison, the batteries that propel Musk’s electric cars have an estimated density of 250 to 300 Wh/kg.
EViation, however, uses a radical aluminum-air battery made by another Israeli firm, Phinergy Ltd., which claims to have achieved a stunning 8,000 Wh/kg energy density by using ambient atmospheric oxygen to react with aluminum and water and create a current.
“Based on an aerial application of Phinergy Ltd’s aluminum-air battery, coupled with a high-power rechargeable battery buffer, and managed by a clever mission-specific power analytics algorithm, EViation’s energy system is unique,” the company boasts, “at a cost that beats gas, and with zero emissions.”
EViation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay suggested several routes for his company’s new plane as he unveiled the prototype. “Whether it is a zero-emission, low-cost trip from Silicon Valley to San Diego, or Seoul to Beijing, our all-electric aircraft represents a chance for people to move with the speed and impact our global economy now demands,” he said.
Europe’s Airbus and Germany’s Siemens have pooled their resources to build a hybrid electric plane, have so far flown only a single-seater to test their concept.
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