Biology Helping Electric Aviation Move Forward

Professor Venkat Viswanathan partners with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in new battery research

Venkat Viswanathan, Associate Professor

New research conducted by U-M Professor Venkat Viswanathan has looked at using methods from biology to keep power delivery high when looking at the take off and landing processes for electric aircraft. While working closely with members from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the team explored interactions between electrodes and electrolytes using a biological field of research called omics to look for clues in the constituents of cells. 

Using this method, they discovered that damage to the molecules were found near the positive side of the electrodes in batteries used in electric aviation, hindering the movement of lithium and reducing the battery power delivery of electric aircraft. With this finding, the team of researchers looked to 24M, a company out of Cambridge, MA, to build a test cell and Viswanathan’s start-up company, And Battery Aero, to test the cell in a realistic takeoff, flight and landing sequence. 

Together, they found the new cell was capable of maintaining the power-to-energy ratio that is needed for more sustainable and longer lasting electric flight. In the future, 24M is set to work alongside And Battery Aero to test a complete battery on a propeller stand and will run it through the flight sequence repeatedly. Within the next year, the team plans on attempting to use these batteries on an electric flight test. 
Find out more details about this research in this article from Michigan Engineering.