Vertical Aerospace Announces Opening of “Vertical Energy Centre”, UK’s “Most Advanced Aerospace Battery Facility”

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.”

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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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