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Metal-air battery integration for cargo compartment fire suppression

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - O2FREE (Metal-air battery integration for cargo compartment fire suppression)

Reporting period: 2020-12-01 to 2021-11-30

Today, most aircraft still use Halon-based fire suppression systems for cargo compartment inertisation following a fire event. Halon 1301 is a very effective fire extinguishing agent. However, it is also a harmful substance with high ozone depletion potential. The use of halon for critical applications including aviation is being phased out, and will be completely banned by 2040 as set out in the Montreal Protocol. There is a need for innovative, lightweight and more environmentally friendly fire suppression solutions for the aerospace sector.

O2FREE project aims at developing and assembling an Al-air battery that will be used as a new fire suppression system. The oxygen is absorbed by the battery as it is involved in the discharge chemical reaction, allowing an efficient, low cost and safe way to replace the current fire suppression systems.

The objective of the project is to demonstrate the feasibility of the Al-air battery technology for this application by assembling and testing a battery prototype of 12 kAh in real environment at the Topic Manager facilities.
During this first year of the project, the 3 partners involved (AES, LEI & SON) have developed a scheme of the electrochemical characteristics that the developed battery must present at unit, cell and module level, and of the requirements of the external module of the battery. Starting materials for the anode and electrolyte have been selected for the development of the battery. These have been adapted and selected to meet the requirements defined in the case of having to work with commercial cathodes. Development of an improved air cathode made by electrospinning and testing of its electrochemical compatibility with the other components has been carried out. Design and stress analysis of the battery modules and structural casings have also started.
New aqueous gel electrolyte has been developed, enabling to discharge for more than 7 hours the Al-air battery cell from -20 to 85ºC, which is a wider than current [-10; 60ºC] Al-air battery temperature range. The final 12 kAh battery demonstrator is expected to work from -40ºC to 85ºC, enabling the validation of this technology as fire suppression system for aircraft. Moreover, such prototype will pave the way for commercialisation of this new battery technology not only for aeronautic applications, but for energy storage (emergency lights, telecommunications, grid support…) also.
Carbon nanofibers (HRSEM image)
Carbon nanofibers (photo)
Schematic setup for the electrospinning process (left) and equipment (right)
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