LG Chem succeeds in test flight of lithium-sulfur battery-powered drone

The Korea Aerospace Research Institute's unmanned aircraft is in flight using LG Chem's lithium-sulfur battery. Courtesy of LG Chem

LG Chem has succeeded in a test flight of an aircraft powered by its lithium-sulfur battery, indicating that the battery maker’s next-generation technology is making smooth progress toward commercialization, the company said Thursday.

The company said the Korea Aerospace Research Institute’s (KARI) unmanned aircraft ― the EAV-3 ― carrying its lithium-sulfur battery flew in the stratosphere, making it the highest test flight of a drone in Korea, Korea Times reports.

The KARI conducted the test flight at its aviation facility in Goheung, South Jeolla Province, on Aug. 30. Powered by LG Chem’s battery, the unmanned craft was in flight for about 13 hours ― from 8:36 a.m. to 9:47 p.m.

The company has been preparing for the flight for 18 months using a test environment that mimicked stratospheric conditions.

LG Chem said the test was meaningful in that its lithium-sulfur battery worked well in extreme cold and almost vacuum-like conditions ― minus 70 degrees Celsius and an atmospheric pressure of 1/25th of that at ground level.

“The successful test flight confirmed that our lithium-sulfur battery showed stable charging and discharging performance in the extreme environmental conditions,” an LG Chem official said.

The lithium-sulfur battery has been regarded as next-generation technology because of its extremely high energy density that can replace the widely used lithium-ion battery.

“In terms of energy density, the lithium-sulfur battery has 1.5 times higher density than a lithium-ion battery,” the company said. “Also, it is lighter and has price competitiveness compared with the lithium-ion battery because it doesn’t use rare metal materials.”

LG Chem expects the next-generation battery has potential for various mobility platforms, not only electric vehicles but also long-range drones, private aircraft and other future aircraft.

“With the test flight, LG Chem could prove that it has best-in-class technology capability in the high-energy density battery sector,” LG Chem’s chief technology officer No Ki-soo said. “By focusing more on developing next-generation battery technology, we will solidify our leadership in the global market.”

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