A LIGHTWEIGHT, HIGH-power aircraft battery, which requires no maintenance, is to be marketed by Horizon Aircraft. The Austin, Texas based company has been formed to distribute the Horizon advanced lead-acid battery, which has been developed by Electrosource.

Ground tests of prototype Horizon batteries in fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft have demonstrated "equivalent or better [engine] starting performance" when compared with conventional lead-acid or nickel-cadmium batteries, at one-quarter to one-third less weight, according to Electrosource.

At the heart of the Horizon battery is a wire created by "co-extruding" lead over a glassfibre filament. Wires are woven into a lightweight mesh grid and the grids are wrapped in an absorbent glassfibre mat.

Wrapped grids are stacked horizontally and the battery is filled with electrolyte, before being drained and sealed.

Electrosource says that its battery has been rated at 44.2Wh/kg, a power-to-weight ratio 50% higher than conventional lead-acid batteries. A low internal resistance allows the battery to be recharged rapidly, the company says, while the lack of free electrolyte eliminates the potential for spills and avoids the need for maintenance.

The battery has its origins in a method for coating glassfibre with aluminum, which was developed by Tracor for use in producing improved chaff.

Electrosource was formed in 1987 by former employees, with Tracor backing, and is pursuing several markets for its battery technology, including vehicle propulsion and engine starting.

Source: Flight International