Lithium ion aircraft batteries are attracting new interest for their ability to help aircraft manufacturers and OEMs achieve substantial savings in weight and maintenance costs. Compared to other battery chemistries, Li-ion delivers far greater energy density, charge retention, and specific power—and does not require scheduled cycling, prolong priming, or other costly maintenance. These qualities can translate into aircraft that can fly faster, longer, and higher, as well as have a lower long-term cost of ownership.
A lithium ion helicopter battery or general aviation battery is relatively new to the aviation industry, but the technology has already achieved success in medical and space applications. Within the aircraft industry, there is a revolutionary trend toward the development of more Electric Aircraft, meaning designs that replace hydraulic, pneumatic, and mechanical subsystems with simpler, lighter, more reliable electric systems. This has driven designs to incorporate battery voltages higher than the traditional 24V systems.
The fuel savings and low maintenance attractiveness of lithium ion to replace heritage batteries (lead acid, Ni-Cd) and the development of high voltage systems will enable the aviation industry to offer more options to there customers. However, lithium ion batteries are intrinsically less safe than other technologies, this will require a battery manufacturer to take a system level approach for designing a power system that incorporates the correct lithium-ion material, cell, battery and electronics features.
Quallion is in development of a variety of lithium-ion systems for aviation and helicopter applications. All of these systems contain active battery management protection circuitry, integrated chargers and passive battery safety design features.
Some of these battery passive safety devices, include Quallion’s proprietary Matrix™ system answers the military’s need for greater interoperability, reliability, and cost-effectiveness. This highly scaleable system simultaneously links mass numbers of small cells in parallel and series, an approach that offers dramatic improvements in flexibility and cost management. In addition, Quallion can offer Zero-Volt technology for these applications, which allows for no-maintenance storage spare batteries, safety in transportation and handling and avoidance of “bricking” the lithium-ion battery if parasitic loads drain a fully depleted battery.