MEAM Seminar: “The Challenges and Opportunities of Battery-Powered Flight”
November 29 at 10:00 AM - 10:30 AM
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. 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. 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. I will discuss two key tools to accelerate the innovation timeline for these battery chemistries: (i) in-situ and operando characterization (ii) closed-loop battery material discovery with physics based simulation and robotic experimentation.
References:  Sripad, Viswanathan, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 9, 2021 118 (45) e2111164118  Fu et al., Nature Materials, (2020), 19, 758–766.  Viswanathan et al., Nature, 601, 519–525 (2022),  Hafiz et al., Nature, 594, 213–216 (2021)  Dave et al., arXiv:2111.14786. Nature Communications (under revision)
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
Venkat Viswanathan is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his PhD at Stanford University in 2013 and subsequently spent a year as a postdoctoral researcher at MIT. At Carnegie Mellon, he leads an interdisciplinary group comprising of ~30 researchers working on technologies that can accelerate the transition to sustainable transportation and aviation. He is a recipient of numerous awards including the Office of Naval Resarch (ONR) Young Investigator Award, Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in Chemistry, National Science Foundation CAREER award and MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35. He has broad expertise in materials related to Li-ion batteries, next-generation technologies such as solid-state batteries, Li-air batteries. He is also an expert on the topic of synergies between autonomous vehicles and electric vehicles. He has been technical consultant for several startups. More details about his research can be found at: http://andrew.cmu.edu/~venkatv/