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Electric aircraft may soon become a commercial reality according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Elon Musk recently tweeted that electric aircraft would be put into use within a time span of five years.
The designs for electric aircraft are ready, but the designs are depending on advancements in the design of batteries and for the energy density of batteries to improve. Electric vehicles are the future and there is no doubting it.
While all other car manufacturers across the world struggled to make better-looking and functioning electric cars, Elon Musk stepped in with Tesla and killed the competition. Tesla's cars brought in new levels of performance, design and range into the electric vehicle world and it looks like the company doesn't intend to stop at just electric cars.
It seems like Elon Musk is obsessed with all things electric. The company has already showcased an electric truck that Musk claims will revolutionise the trucking scene. Tesla also has an electric pickup truck in the making. The company has also acquired various brands that would help it develop all kinds of electric machines.
Elon Musk had once said that all modes of transport can be made electric except rockets. It is certain that Musk and Tesla is working towards it. Years ago, Elon Musk claimed that he had a design for a VTOL (Vertical Take-Off & Landing) aircraft ready but bringing it to reality required batteries with higher energy density.
Musk went on to explain that Jet fuel currently being used to power jet engines in aircraft have a greater energy density but batteries are better at converting the stored energy to motion. He was quoted as saying, "Jet A (kerosene) has much higher energy density than Li-ion, but electric motors weigh much less and convert stored energy to motion better than combustion engines."
These comments were made a few years ago and Elon Musk had not revealed a timeline for the battery energy density to improve. Over the last weekend though, Elon Musk's tweets placed a timeline of around five years from now for energy density of batteries to get to the optimum level.
A twitter account by the name Ninja first tweeted, "Is it possible for planes to fly off of a battery? Or is there not a powerful enough battery yet?" Elon Musk replied, "Yes, but still a bit too limited on range. That will change in the coming years as battery energy density improves." Battery energy density is currently at around 300 Wh/kg while Musk had stated that his aircraft design required 400 Wh/kg to function.
Battery energy density is nothing but the amount of energy that can be put out by a battery weighing a certain amount. It is measured in Watt-hours per kilogram. The higher the energy density gets, the more power a battery will be able to produce while weighing the same.
The lesser an aircraft weighs, the better it is and it certainly cannot have heavy batteries weighing it down. Hence, we would have to wait for a few more years for battery energy density to improve.
Notably, Tesla has also acquired Maxwell technologies which allows Tesla to gain access to the company's battery technologies. It includes advanced ideas like ultracapacitors and dry electrodes. Maxwell's design uses dry electrodes to reach higher levels of energy density. The idea does not use wet solvents like a traditional battery and ditches the controversial cobalt element.
It also boosts production and reduces costs by 20 percent. The best part about this deal for Tesla was the fact that Maxwell is working on an idea to reach 500 watt-hours per kilogram. So does this mean we could see a Tesla aircraft going into production any time soon?
It is too early to predict at the moment, but we have seen Tesla building rockets, superfast electric cars and even projects like the hyperloop. So, it certainly won't be a surprise when we see Tesla aircraft flying in the future.
Thoughts On Tesla Electric Aircraft Could Become Reality In Five Years
Tesla produces some of the best in the world of electric cars. Now it is certain that the company has set its sight on electric aircraft. According to research, aviation contributes to around two percent of global emissions and this is what Musk and his team would be looking to cut down on.