Incoming professor of aerospace engineering Venkat Viswanathan assembled nearly 40 decision-makers in battery research, industry, and aviation, including state leaders at Michigan Engineering on August 3. The topic of conversation was electrifying aviation and emerging technologies that could take off over the coming decade.
The discussion revolved around achieving an energy density target of 1 kilowatt-hour per kilogram, which is over three times higher than the energy density of current electric vehicle batteries. Unlike electric cars, where the energy density problem is virtually solved, airplanes require a much higher energy density to be considered practical for cross-country flights.
Viswanathan specializes in high-energy density batteries for aviation, and his new research program at U-M will begin this fall. He joins us from Carnegie Mellon University and explains that he chose the University of Michigan due to the “incredible battery ecosystem in the Detroit area.” His new addition to the Michigan Aerospace Department promises bright things for the future of aviation and battery research.
This gathering of experts and industry leaders was additionally an excellent opportunity for Richard A. Auhll, Department Chair of Aerospace Engineering, Carlos Cesnik to discuss the newly launched Michigan Institute for Sustainable Aviation (MISA). The institute is designed to gather leading experts for collaboration in addressing the increasing environmental impact facing the aviation industry. MISA aims to reduce the harmful impact of aviation on the environment and society through new practices and radical innovation to bring a holistic approach that considers the full life-cycle impact of the design, development, and operation of aircraft systems.