Applied Mechanics Colloquia Applied Physics Colloquia

The Challenges and Opportunities of Battery-Powered Flight

Venkat Viswanathan

Friday, Sep 22, 2023
11:00 am to 12:00 pm | Pierce Hall, 209 | Remote option

Sustainable transportation and aviation are critical to address climate change and renewable energy powered battery electric vehicles represent a promising path towards this goal. I will discuss the performance metrics needed of batteries for electric land and air vehicles, and assess the energy-efficiency of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft compared to ground vehicles.[1]  Identifying the challenging but achievable battery performance requirements for eVTOL, I will discuss our approach to achieve simultaneously high specific energy and power by using lithium metal anodes, enabled through a new density-driven dendrite suppression mechanism realized through a soft polymer-ceramic composite separator[2].  I will discuss the unique performance failure mode related to power fade for eVTOLs rather than energy fade for electric vehicles. Following this, I will discuss the requirements and challenges for all-electric battery-powered single and twin-aisle aircraft and outline battery chemistry innovations that offer a pathway to approaching these requirements.[3] I will discuss two key tools to accelerate the innovation timeline for these battery chemistries: (i) in-situ and operando characterization[4] (ii) closed-loop battery material discovery with physics based simulation and robotic experimentation.[5] 


References: [1] Sripad, Viswanathan, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 9, 2021 118 (45) e2111164118 [2] Fu et al., Nature Materials, (2020), 19, 758–766. [3] Viswanathan et al., Nature, 601, 519–525 (2022), [4] Hafiz et al., Nature, 594, 213–216 (2021) [5] Dave et al., Nature Communications, 13, 5454 (2022).

Speaker Bio

Venkat Viswanathan is an Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering at University of Michigan. He is the co-founder of  Aionics Inc (accelerating EV battery materials), Chement (zero-carbon cement), And Battery Aero (aviation battery sytems). He is a recipient of numerous awards including the MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35, Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Award, Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in Chemistry and National Science Foundation CAREER award.


AP/MSME Colloquium Series


Douglas Woodhouse