Lyten sees strong potential in the eVTOL market for its new lithium-sulfur battery line, with the battery maker in early discussions with companies in the sector, the manufacturer has told Vertical.
The company opened its new lithium-sulfur pilot line in mid-June and plans to begin delivery of commercial battery cells later in the year. At the time of the official opening, the company said lithium-sulfur battery chemistry would cost about 50% less in terms of materials than conventional lithium-ion batteries. It also pointed to the high energy density of the chemistry, stating this would be appealing across different industries, including aviation.
Lyten already has connections to the eVTOL sector through its partnership with Stellantis, which is an investor in the company and in Archer Aviation, a California-based company designing the Midnight eVTOL aircraft.
Keith Norman, Lyten’s chief sustainability officer, said it has had discussions with manufacturers in the sector, though he could not reveal details due to business confidentiality. These talks have focused on two potential advantages from the batteries, Norman said.
First, the higher energy density of the batteries — two to three times greater than a lithium-ion battery, according to Lyten — means they can be lower weight, which is important for eVTOL development. Second, the company and potential partners are exploring the possibility of using the batteries in a “hybrid-type system,” he said, to deliver the “super high energy delivery required for takeoff and landing.”
The new batteries are being developed at Lyten’s Silicon Valley site, where it also produces its 3D graphene material — part of the new battery — for a range of other applications. This could have additional potential in the eVTOL space, Norman said, providing lightweight composite materials that can be produced with 3D printing.
Lyten also uses 3D graphene for its resonant sensors product line, Norman noted. This is a form of sensing without batteries, wires or electronics which can be embedded across the structure of an aircraft or other platform.
“They can read pressure, temperature, torsion, tension, deformation,” Norman said. “It can give you readings on performance of that aircraft while in flight, but requires no electronics.”
Lyten also believes there are safety benefits to the new batteries, which are less vulnerable to thermal runaway, Norman said. More broadly, the batteries do not rely on nickel, cobalt or manganese, which brings both environmental and supply chain benefits.
“Depending on your sources, 75% to 85% of batteries come through a supply chain [in] Asia, and the majority comes from China,” Norman said. “Customers are interested in the performance but also having a supply chain that can be entirely sourced and manufactured domestically, be that in the U.S. or in Europe or other countries.”
This has been a key focus for the U.S. Department of Defense. The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) will be one of the early customers for the new batteries.