LG Chem, the largest Korean chemical company, has recently announced the successful flight of a drone that is equipped with a lithium-sulfur battery at the highest altitude.

On 30th August, the company tested the flight of the long-haul solar unmanned aerial vehicle, EAV-3. This unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was developed by the KARI (Korea Aerospace Research Institute). The recent mission marks LG Chem as the 1st Korean company to conduct the test flight by using this next-gen lithium-sulfur battery.

The flight of EAV-3 in the stratosphere, at an altitude of 12 km or above, is powered by solar energy and battery. The drone has a wing length of 20 meters and a fuselage length of 9 meters. During the test, the vehicle flew at a 22-km altitude, which is the highest drone flight in the 2nd layer of the earth’s atmosphere.

The chemical company has reported that the unmanned aerial vehicle flew at a stable power for 7 hours, out of the total 13-hour period, in the stratosphere. The recent flight was of high significance as it confirmed the discharging performance and stable charging of the next-gen lithium-sulfur battery. This type of battery uses lightweight cathode and anode materials including sulfur carbon composite and lithium metal. The battery also has an efficient energy density/weight, which is 1.5x higher than the existing lithium-ion batteries, with excellent price competitiveness.  Apart from EVs, the personal aircraft and long-haul drones can be considered as the critical components for future transportation.

The LG Chem FTRC‘s (Future Technology Research Center) battery project team has conducted lithium-sulfur batteries research at low pressures and temperatures by developing an extreme environment as that of the stratosphere for a year and 6 months. The company is also planning to deliver more lithium-sulfur battery prototypes to ensure prolonged flights for several days. Moreover, it is targeting to mass-produce these batteries after 2025.

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