Battery Powered Planes Are Almost Here

Posted by David Konow

Battery operated airplanes. Yeah, sure, if they’re the kind you can buy at Toys R Us, right? So many people have a fear of flying, would they possibly feel comfortable in a real battery operated plane? 

 
Yet according to MIT Technology Review, battery operated planes may indeed be “nearing reality,” and we may actually see them by the end of this decade. As this report tells us, these are hybrid electric planes, and a two-seater model was demonstrated in June, traveling the approximate distance of 900 kilometers, or about the distance between New York to Detroit.
 
This report tells us that the hybrid plane of the near future is like the Chevrolet Volt car because it has an electric motor and has a backup gas engine. This plane was developed by the companies Siemens and EADS, and Frank Anton, the head of the project, told MIT that there will eventually be 100-seat passenger battery operated planes, not just the two-seater type that just flew 900 kilometers with two passengers and their luggage. 
 
The batteries that keep this planes going are gradually going to have more energy, and like a lot of technology as it develops, things will eventually get smaller, lighter, and more high tech. The engine doesn’t have to be that big, and as MIT reports, “the battery and electric motor provide the extra power needed for takeoff and ascent. The batteries also make it possible to recover energy during descent much the way hybrid cars capture energy during breaking…” 
 
It remains to be seen if this will be the way of the future, and planes won’t be guzzling tons of fuel anymore, but at first they won’t be able to travel that far. This report tells us that an all-electric plane won’t be able to travel more than 1,600 kilometers until after 2050, and the batteries will carry 1,000 watt hours per kilogram.