Air travel currently relies heavily on fossil fuels, resulting in substantial greenhouse gas emissions that contribute significantly to climate change. However, NASA's innovative new solid-state sulfur selenium battery could revolutionize air travel by enabling electric flight on a much broader scale.
Compared to traditional lithium-ion batteries, NASA's battery delivers double the energy density—the amount of energy stored per unit mass. This major leap in performance brings the energy density close to the minimum threshold estimated to be required for electric air travel.
In addition to the increased energy storage capacity, the battery also discharges energy 10 times faster than other solid-state designs. This enables the rapid power delivery necessary for aircraft takeoff and other demanding functions.
The sulfur selenium chemistry provides crucial advantages in safety as well, with greater resilience to damage and elimination of fire risks present in lithium-ion batteries. This is especially important for aviation applications.
By using lighter materials, the NASA team reduced the battery's weight by 40%—a key factor allowing more batteries to be carried to extend range. Ongoing enhancements to production methods are also helping drive down costs.
While more research and stringent testing will be needed before certification for commercial use, the technology represents an exciting milestone toward feasible electric air travel. Eliminating greenhouse gas emissions would significantly reduce the climate impact of aviation.
NASA's revolutionary sulfur selenium battery addresses the key technical barriers that have limited electric flight in the past. With continued progress, the technology could truly transform commercial air transport to be cleaner and more sustainable. The future of emissions-free air travel powered by advanced energy storage may arrive sooner than expected.