LG Chem flies lithium-sulfur battery-loaded aircraft into stratosphere

  • 2020-09-14

LG Chem Ltd. has completed a test flight of an unmanned plane in the stratosphere using its lithium-sulfur battery for the first time in South Korea.

The battery maker said last week that a small aircraft, dubbed EAV-3, successfully underwent a flight test of about 13 hours in the stratosphere above Goheung, South Korea, using the next-generation battery.

LG Chem loaded a lithium-sulfur battery on the EAV-3 and conducted the test-flight from 08:36 am to 09:47 pm on Aug. 30.

EAV-3 is a high-altitude long-endurance solar-powered unmanned plane developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute. It can fly in a stratospheric altitude of 12km or higher using solar energy and batteries. It charges energy using a solar cell placed on the top of the wing. It has 20m-long wings and a 9m-long body.

lithium-sulfur-battery-loaded aircraft

“It confirmed a stable charge and discharge function of a lithium-sulfur battery in the extreme environment of the stratosphere with a low temperature of 70 degrees below zero and atmospheric pressure of 1/25 of one at ground level, which is close to a vacuum state,” LG Chem said in a statement on Sept. 10.

Lithium-sulfur batteries are among the next-generation batteries set to replace lithium-ion batteries and are considered a key component of future transportation, such as electric cars, long-endurance drones and personal aircraft.

The energy density of a lithium-sulfur battery is 1.5 times greater than the existing lithium-ion battery because it uses lightweight materials such as sulfur and carbon compounds for anode materials and lithium metal for cathode materials. It is also price competitive compared to the lithium-ion battery as it does not use rare metals, LG Chem added.

LG Chem plans to mass-produce a lithium-sulfur battery with an energy density more than double that of the current lithium-ion battery after 2025.

By Man-su Chose

bebop@hankyung.com

<Edited by Yeonhee Kim>