Saturday, October 23, 2021

ABB Develops Chargers For Lilium Electric Airplanes

Lilium is a startup company whose vision is to bring electric airplanes out of the lab and into the skies. “Startup” is a term that can be somewhat ambiguous. It suggests a company that is charging forward into the future. In reality, lots of startups never enjoy commercial success. They simply go out of business, never to be heard from again.

Searching the CleanTechnica archives for information about Lilium reveals our first stories about it appeared in 2017 when it was focused on ferrying passengers on short-haul hops to New York City. Now it says it is planning to start offering flights of 150 miles or so at speeds up to 175 miles per hour in Florida beginning in 2024 using its 7 seat Lilium Jet. To be a commercial success, it will need to make many flights a day on routes like Tampa or Miami to Orlando.

For that to happen, it will need to be able to recharge the batteries quickly once on the ground. Enter ABB, the Swedish-Swiss company that specializes in building charging equipment for a variety of industries. Earlier this month, it unveiled the Terra 360, which it says is the world’s fastest EV charger, with up to 360 kW of power. Some in the CleanTechnica community quibble with that claim, but suffice to say ABB is providing extremely fast chargers to many EV charging companies like Electrify America and Ionity.

The ABB MegaWatt fast charging infrastructure for the Lilium Jet will be able to fully charge its batteries in just 30 minutes. An 80% SOC can be obtained in just 15 minutes, but passengers probably won’t mind waiting a few extra minutes to let the batteries complete the charging process.

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“Combining Lilium’s mission to grow sustainable aviation with ABB’s global market expertise and leadership in e-mobility and charging infrastructure is a win for the environment and a win for passengers,” said Frank Muehlon, president of ABB’s E-mobility Division. “Moreover, we see this planned partnership as an important commitment to all relevant charging standards that are adopted by multiple electric ‘vehicle’ manufacturers. By supporting the new MegaWatt charging standard, ABB E-mobility is paving the way for the electrification of all modes of transport, from cars and trucks to marine vessels, mining vehicles, and now, aviation.”

Decarbonizing the airline industry is essential to lowering carbon emissions to an adequate level. Daniel Wiegand, CEO of Lilium, says, “We believe that the decarbonization of aviation is both urgent and inevitable. Making sure we have the right charging infrastructure will play a crucial role in enabling our high-speed regional air network by allowing quick and efficient charging. We are proud to be working with ABB, who bring decades of experience in electrification and software, to set the charging industry standard for electric aviation.”

ABB’s MegaWatt Charging System, developed for the planned partnership with Lilium, will allow DC charging at up to 1000 kW and can be adapted for use by electric heavy-duty vehicles like trucks and buses. CharIN, the organization that promotes interoperability based on the Combined Charging System (CCS) as the global standard for charging vehicles of all kinds, initiated the Task Force “Megawatt Charging System” in 2018 to prepare an international charging standard for high-power charging for commercial vehicles.

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