Advancing electric aviation: Cuberg secures milestone in external validation of world-first lithium-metal battery module

California-based Northvolt subsidiary publishes third-party validation of the world’s first lithium-metal battery module, marking a significant milestone in battery innovation.

Cuberg has today published a validation report of its first-generation lithium-metal battery module. The results are a testament to the exceptional performance of Cuberg's lithium-metal technology and represent the world’s first third-party validation of a lithium-metal battery module.

Designed to fulfil the operating requirements of a fully electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, the lithium-metal module is capable of providing high discharge rates, at low weight, with consistent performance over hundreds of missions.

Featuring 60 lithium-metal 20 Ah pouch cells, the battery module was validated using flight profiles representative of an eVTOL aircraft. As detailed in the report, the module performed 692 cycles before reaching capacity retention of 90% and demonstrated specific energy of 284.8 Wh/kg — performance never before achieved with lithium-metal technology.

The high specific energy of the module translates to increased flight range which, in turn, enables multiple use cases for electric aviation. High specific energy would enable operators to choose between longer cruise times or heavier payloads — both of which expand the opportunities for eVTOL business cases.

Shauna McIntyre, CEO Cuberg, comments: "Our mission at Cuberg is to expand the frontier of electrification. The validation of our first lithium-metal module marks a milestone in our journey towards commercial lithium-metal battery solutions. With a focus on performance, safety and reliability, we're committed to accelerating the adoption of electrification across new market segments and the transition to a cleaner future."

The first generation of Cuberg’s lithium-metal battery module was designed, developed and produced at Cuberg facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. Validation work was conducted by TÜV SÜD.

Behind the report

Development of the lithium-metal battery module was led by Evan Frank, Vice President of Battery Systems at Cuberg, who comments: "I'm inspired by the potential of our technology to revolutionize multiple industries, from aviation to automotive. The validation report is testament to our team’s capabilities and dedication to delivering cutting-edge lithium-metal battery solutions that redefine performance and reliability standards. I'm proud to lead a team that's driving innovation and shaping the future of clean energy transportation."

Evan Frank’s team designed and built the module around 20 Ah pouch cells, for which a cell performance validation report is planned for release later this year. In 2022, however, Cuberg published third-party validation of its 5 Ah pouch cell, confirming cell cycle life of 672 cycles and energy capacity of 380 Wh/kg. At the time of publication, the results demonstrated the world’s highest-performing and longest-lived lithium-metal cell, independently validated in a commercially representative format.

Cuberg is developing its batteries to meet aviation safety standards, and is working towards operating under a US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved quality system with Technical Standard Order Authorization (TSOA), inclusive of design and production approval.

To support this endeavor and fulfilment of its wider commitment to safety, Cuberg hired Tom Sciortino in January 2024 to lead the company’s certification efforts. Having spent over two decades in the FAA, Tom has held leading positions across various domains, including certificate management, compliance and airworthiness in both domestic and international contexts. Tom will focus on guiding Cuberg through relevant certification processes, with both the FAA and international civil aviation authorities, as well as with supporting customer certification efforts.

Implications beyond aviation

While Cuberg has gained attention for its development of battery solutions to enable the aviation industry, the company’s ambitions include bringing lithium-metal technology to other markets.

Blending lightweight design with both high discharge rates and high energy density, Cuberg lithium-metal battery technology is well-suited for applications requiring high-performance, including ones in the automotive sector. As electric vehicles continue to gain traction, Cuberg's technology could play a crucial role in powering the next generation of high-performance electric cars, offering enhanced power and range.

To address this diverse customer base, Cuberg deploys a flexible business model of both battery cell and module development and delivery. As a result of its industry-leading system expertise, Cuberg serves as a critical partner to vehicle producers in their system-level development while offering customers the freedom to customize Cuberg cell technology to their system-level requirements.

In securing the world’s first third-party validation of lithium-metal battery module, Northvolt and Cuberg cement their position as a leader in battery technology at both the cell and module levels. Module validation not only attests to the performance of lithium-metal technology but also marks a significant step forward in the industrialization of the technology.

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