Agility Prime (X20.D) : Enhancing UAM Battery Fire & Lightning Safety
This STTR Phase I effort will demonstrate the viability of using aerospace-proven carbon fiber in a unique and patented way to solve two critical safety issues with UAM vehicles: fire caused by Li-ion battery pack thermal runaway and irreversible or catastrophic damage caused by lightning strikes.
For the Phase I STTR project, Boston Materials (Billerica, MA) and Northeastern University DAPS Lab (Boston, MA) are partnering to demonstrate the efficacy of vertically oriented (Z-axis) carbon fiber films in lightweight lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack fire suppression and lightning strike protection systems for UAM vehicles. Boston Materials commercially manufactures composite films made with Z-axis carbon fiber. In recent testing, Boston Materials has demonstrated that the Z-axis carbon fiber alignment enables drastic conductivity enhancements to effectively dissipate heat and electrical energy in composite materials. DAPS Lab, a preeminent research group in thermal management materials, will integrate Boston Materials’ Z-axis carbon fiber films into a novel lightweight Li-ion battery pack fire suppression system for electric UAM vehicles.
Through the Phase I STTR project, the DAPS Lab will design, create, and test a Li-ion battery module housing made with Z-axis carbon fiber films and phase change materials that will absorb and contain all the thermal energy of a Li-ion battery module during a runaway event – preventing a catastrophic battery pack fire. Parallel to this work, Boston Materials will demonstrate that the same Z-axis carbon fiber film can be implemented as a surfacing layer to manage electromagnetic hazards (EMH) in UAM vehicles and specifically eliminate irreversible or catastrophic damage caused by the primary and secondary effects of lightning strike. Through the Phase I STTR project, Boston Materials will emulate the primary and secondary effects of lightning strike in test panels with and without the Z-axis carbon fiber surfacing film to demonstrate efficacy of the proposed solution. The lightning testing will be performed at National Technical Systems (Pittsfield, MA). Boston Materials is also partnering with Hexcel Corporation (Stamford, CT) to co-commercialize the Z-axis carbon fiber films in U.S. domestic UAM vehicles, commercial and military aircraft, and ground electric vehicles.