UK-based eVTOL Aircraft Company, Vertical Aerospace, announced this week the opening of its Vertical Energy Centre (VEC) in Bristol, believed to be the country’s most advanced aerospace battery facility, reports a press release. This multi-million-pound state-of-the-art, 15,000ft2 facility, is one of the only dedicated aerospace battery facilities in the country.
It is home to Vertical’s present 50-strong battery team drawn from the likes of McLaren, the European Space Agency, Jaguar Land Rover, Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Dyson. The group are developing cutting-edge batteries that will enable “greater power to weight ratios for eVTOL flight” with the aim of transforming battery technology.
Vertical announced last year a partnership with Molicel, which combines the eVTOL company’s proprietary battery pack design with Molicel’s leading cell technology. The release states, “Vertical has already conducted significant cell testing at the VEC for use in its battery pack modules. Operational ramp-up of Vertical’s manufacturing machinery has begun by assembling the first in-house developed prototype battery modules in the facility.”
The release continues, “Vertical’s battery systems have undergone a wide range of testing, including temperature, conducted emissions, vibration, thermal durability and characterisation, propagation and drop testing at the VEC. The company has previously had significant progress with battery tests, having carried out crash and thermal runaway testing under European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority supervision.”
Vertical’s battery expertise is recognised by the industry with its Head of Powertrain, Dr Limhi Somerville, chairing the eVTOL EuroCAE electrical certification group, the Body that is defining the battery standards for electric aviation with EASA.
The release adds, “Vertical has developed significant intellectual property around battery design including cell packaging, cooling and electronic battery management systems to deliver high-power, high-performance battery packs capable of powering eVTOL aircraft. Vertical is aiming for entry into service with a 220Wh/kg battery system. This will enable the company’s VX4 to conduct back-to-back missions, with fast-charging cycles in-between, and minimised impact on the packs’ cycle life.”
Dr Somerville commented, “Aircraft require high-performing and safer batteries than anything on the market today. This facility and our core technology will unlock this, bringing the reality of electric flight even closer.”
Stephen Fitzpatrick, Founder and CEO of Vertical, added, “Delivering the electric aircraft of the future requires innovation at its best which is why we are championing UK electric battery development. Our world- class team in Bristol will be pushing new boundaries to design battery systems fit for electrifying our future.”
This announcement follows recent news that Vertical secured UKP14m in funding from the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) through a joint initiative with the UK government, to further progress the development of its battery technology. The project, in partnership with University College London (UCL), will increase the core capability of Vertical’s battery system, improve recycling efficiency and increase the scope of its use in additional markets.
Vertical has a leading pre-order book for more than 1,400 aircraft from diverse global customer base, creating multiple potential near term and actionable routes to market. Customers include airlines, aircraft lessors, helicopter operators and tourism groups, including American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Avolon, Bristow, Marubeni, Iberojet and FLYINGGROUP, as well as Japan Airlines (JAL), Gol, Air Greenland, Gozen Holding and AirAsia, through Avolon’s VX4 placements.
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