August 19, 2020

Major Breakthrough in Battery Technology Imminent


Researchers at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia have, according to the Aerotime Hub website, recently published a paper that describes new electrical cell technology that can store 60 percent more energy than existing lithium-ion cells.

The Jeff Dahn Research Group at the Halifax university works closely with Tesla on battery improvements for their line of motor vehicles, but any breakthrough in improving energy density in batteries has a direct effect on the viability of battery-powered aircraft, where weight is a much greater factor than it is with ground-based vehicles.

Jeff Dahn (centre rear) and his 2019 research team members.

Energy density refers to the amount of stored energy a battery can hold for a given weight or volume.

As an example, Harbour Air’s battery-powered flight last December (see eFlight article) was limited by the on-board battery to 15 minutes of flight with a 25-minute reserve.

Professor Jeff Dahn, who earned his PhD at the University of British Columbia and has served on the faculty of Simon Fraser University before returning to Dalhousie, is considered one of the pioneer developers of lithium-ion batteries that are so ubiquitous in our modern lives. He currently holds or has applied for 65 patents on battery technology.

As for Tesla, founder and Queen’s University-educated Elon Musk admitted that, even though his Model 3 sedan is engineered to last a million miles, its current battery offering is limited to about 300,000 to 500,000 miles. He hopes to match the lifecycle of the car itself with its batteries in the not-too-distant future. On September 15, Tesla plans to hold a ‘Battery Day’ conference.

Image credits: Dalhousie University