Luke Workman is a complete maniac. He’s also one of the world’s leading lithium battery pack designers for electric vehicles, and he’s come up with a revolutionary battery design that he says could bring on clean, quiet, long-distance, commercial-scale supersonic airliners.
The latest generation of electric powertrain technology is leading toward some very exciting developments in the aviation world, from VTOL air taxis to potential flying car designs. But the airline industry is still roughly as slow, and noisy, and expensive, and inefficient and dirty as it has been for the last 40 years – and we haven’t seen much from the electric world yet to challenge it.
The trouble isn’t the motors – electric motors should be extremely effective in the air, since they work well at low-drag high altitudes, where the air is thin enough to cause problems for combustion engines.
The main problem, as everyone knows, is batteries – getting enough energy into a light enough package to deliver a useful range. And that’s where wild-man EV battery pack guru Luke Workman figures he’s got a solution.
If you haven’t read our fun multi-part interview with Luke Workman before, suffice it to say he’s a unique and wonderful character with his fingers in a remarkable number of electric vehicle pies. From electric motorcycles to tilt-rotor VTOL aircraft and a growing list of other applications, he’s designed some of the most rugged and high-density lithium battery packs in the business. These days as a freelance consultant, he’s regarded as one of the world’s best lithium battery designers.
Now, he believes he’s worked out a unique battery design that could open the door to long-range, supersonic, electric aviation on a commercial scale – proper airliner-size beasts. And, he says, it can be done using existing battery chemistry; no need to wait for any of the technology leaps that the mainstream car and motorcycle industries are holding on for.