Solithor & Sonaca work on solid-state cells for UAM

Solid-state batteries for electric aircraft are the focus of new cooperation between two Belgian companies. Solid-state specialist Solithor and aerospace company Sonaca want to develop solid-state lithium cells for regional aviation and urban air mobility (UAM).

The partners already defined and shared work priorities as intended. Solithor will be responsible for battery cell research, development, testing and analysis, format development and production as it moves forward. Sonaca will develop the battery packaging, including all related management systems. In addition, Sonaca will certify the battery system. The statement also details 10Ah-40Ah cells.

This would allow the industry to make more effective use of smaller regional airports and go some way to address their under-utilisation across the world – especially in the USA and Europe, reads the statement.

Solithor will manufacture the cells at its factory in Sint-Truiden. When announcing the plant take-over from Punch Powertrain last December, Solithor already mentioned the aviation sector as a target market. During 2023, Solithor (in its own spelling SOLiTHOR to emphasise both the “Sol” for solid and “Li” for lithium) plans to start pre-production of its solid-state technology. Within three years, the company wants to expand its production to the point where entire battery modules and systems can be built as proof-of-concept and prototype batteries.

Sonaca will install the aircraft battery systems at its plant in Charleroi. Looking at the above plans, this will likely happen around 2025. However, the cooperation may help Solithor to move ahead faster. While Solithor has about 25 employees, Sonaca is an aeronautics specialist with 3,500 staff and ties to the military sector. According to the statement, the envisioned new solid-state cells would also expand to satellite and defence systems.

Sonaca aims to “proactively contribute” to developing a low-carbon aircraft by 2035 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Solithor and Sonaca add that their “complementary capabilities” would provide “the greatest advancements in solid-state Lithium battery systems technologies for all regional aircraft and urban air mobility applications”.


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