JOPLIN, Mo., 12 Aug. 2009. Engineers at Aurora Flight Sciences Corp. in Manassas, Va., needed lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery power for the company's Excalibur vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) prototype unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). They found their solution from EaglePicher Technologies LLC in Joplin, Mo.
Li-ion cells provide energy storage at a third of the weight of traditional nickel based systems, and EaglePicher's Li-ion batteries use a combination of lightweight aluminum components and adhesive room temperature vulcanizing -- an elastomer sealant -- that minimize battery weight even further, company officials say.
Aurora's Excalibur VTOL UAV uses a hybrid turbine-electric propulsion system with a tilting engine for primary propulsion and electric lift fans, which are powered by EaglePicher's Li-ion UAV battery technology for supplemental thrust and control during VTOL. This approach could lead to broader applications in aviation.
Aurora Flight Sciences flew the Excalibur prototype unmanned aircraft at the U.S. Army Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., on June 24. EaglePicher is a producer of batteries and energetic devices for the defense, space, and commercial industries.