Episode 155: What kind of batteries are used in drones?

Venkat Viswanathan, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, discusses how batteries are used to power drones and how battery innovation can improve drone function.

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A Lithium-Air Battery Based on Lithium Superoxide from Argonne National Laboratory

Rechargeable Lithium-Air Batteries from Pacific Northwest Laboratory

Battery Charge Depletion Prediction on an Electric Aircraft from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Transcript

HOST:     Have you ever wondered how drones are powered?  On this week’s Energy Bite, Venkat Viswanathan, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

VENKAT: Drones are typically powered by lithium polymer batteries, similar to the lithium-ion batteries that are used in laptops, mobile phones, and other electronic devices. Drone batteries do not last long only providing about 25 minutes of flight time and a short lifetime.

HOST:    Can drones be powered by something other than lithium ion batteries?

VENKAT: Yes, other options under exploration are gasoline used in a hybrid gas-electric engine and hydrogen fuel cells, which the manufacturers indicate can increase flight time to two hours.  Lithium air batteries may also be an option in the future.  You might be wondering why you just can’t add more lithium batteries to increase flight time.  Adding more batteries, however, is not an option as then the drone is too heavy to fly.

HOST:     Do you fly a drone?  Would you like your drone to fly longer?  Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

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