The Aviation Fuel and the Passenger Aircraft for the Future - Batteries

Author: Aday Pérez Reyes

Master Thesis


This thesis covers the feasibility of batteries as a mechanism of energy storage in commercial air transportation in two main aspects, technical and economical. Along with this, it also aims to show what kind of changes should be implemented and what challenges faces this alternative. In order to achieve that, some simplified models have been implemented in aircraft design software, and also some simplifying assumptions have been made. A futuristic scenario is contemplated, and with the expected battery technology, possibilities of batteries are analyzed, taking the current A320 model as the basis of a fair and revealing comparison. This alternative sheds discouraging results. A hypothetical A320 equipped with futuristic Li-S batteries would have a range of just 320 km if safety requirements are respected (loiter and alternative airport reserves) being its DOC around ten times larger than the original's. It is then found that, in order to respect payload and range requirements of the A320, battery technology needs to reach values of specific energy and energy density higher than 8 MJ/Kg, and 2.2 MJ/kg respectively, much greater than the futuristic battery Li-S ones. As a conclusion, it can be said that it is technically possible to fly very short distances with batteries, but this solution is not a real alternative in the short and middle term by itself. In consequence, other kinds of technologies must be considered in order to change air transportation in a more ecological way.