Battery technology specialist Li-S Energy (ASX:LIS) has formed a triumvirate with drone developer V-TOL Aerospace and solar panel manufacturer Halocell to build high-altitude drones.
Li-S, which has a $134.44 million market capitalisation, says the 3 parties have signed a collaboration agreement to develop and test Australian-made low- and high-altitude long endurance (HALE) drones.
The partners aim to leverage the innovations of each company in battery technology, aerial drone design, and bespoke solar cell integration to build a drone capable of flying in the stratosphere at an altitude of up to 70,000 feet for weeks at a time.
These drones will bring together Li-S Energy’s patented lithium-sulphur batteries, Halocell’s bespoke perovskite solar cells, and V-TOL’s Pegasus fixed-wing aircraft designs to create a family of drones that can undertake these tasks.
Li-S says this new class of drones could be used for surveillance and security in remote and regional areas, environmental monitoring, digital farming, disaster response and relief, long-range infrastructure inspections, and research and exploration.
Modelling has predicted that the combination of the 3 technology platforms could deliver a drone with up to 6 times the flight time of current small-fixed wing drone aircraft.
Addressing the partnership, Li-S Energy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Lee Finniear says: “We are bringing together three innovative Australian companies to build autonomous drones with wide-ranging capabilities. This allows us to not only demonstrate the benefits of Li-S Energy cells in practical high-altitude aircraft but potentially build a new sovereign capability for the Australian aviation industry.
Our lithium-sulphur battery technology is ideally suited to this type of aerospace innovation, and we see a real opportunity to power the electric aviation revolution.
“Our lithium-sulphur battery technology is ideally suited to this type of aerospace innovation, and we see a real opportunity to power the electric aviation revolution”
Adding his thoughts to this partnership, V-TOL Aerospace Managing Director Mark Xavier comments: “All three partners are at the cutting edge of their respective technologies, and the combination of all three offers some exciting opportunities to test the limits of what is currently possible.
A big potential winner of this collaboration will be the Australian economy that has the opportunity to benefit from both the sovereign manufacturing capability of the collaborating partners and the geospatial and communication benefits that a networked drone constellation could deliver.
The V-TOL launch product, Pegasus I, will offer a small fixed-wing long-range platform to conduct hi-resolution surveys of linear infrastructure and broad acre farming. The larger Pegasus II aircraft will be developed to provide a low-cost high altitude multi-purpose capability.”
Meanwhile, Halocell CEO Paul Moonie adds: “We believe adding our cells to drones will add an entirely new dimension to flight time and efficiency.
Aerospace and aviation are key areas of focus for us moving forward, and this opportunity to partner with Li-S Energy and V-TOL is an important step for us.”
Li-S Energy is focused on building better batteries for a cleaner, greener future.
V-TOL Aerospace specialises in the design, manufacturing, and technical systems support for small unmanned aircraft systems for enterprise-level and government organisations.
Halocell is actively working to commercialise perovskite solar cells, which it touts as a next-generation solar solution for the global energy transition.
Li-S Energy had $33.450 million cash and cash equivalents at hand as of 30 June 2023.
Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au
Images: V-TOL Aerospace