By Elan Head

An award-winning journalist, Elan is also a commercial helicopter pilot and an FAA Gold Seal flight instructor with helicopter and instrument ratings. Follow her on Twitter @elanhead

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Bye Aerospace says it’s ‘not reliant’ on the new owner of its lithium-sulfur battery supplier

When the lithium-sulfur battery developer Oxis Energy became insolvent in May, Bye Aerospace CEO George Bye — who had named Oxis as the battery supplier for his eight-seat eFlyer 800 electric airplane — expressed confidence in the Oxis team, noting that “these types of transitions occur in every industry.”

Bye eFlyer 800 - Oxis batteries
Bye Aerospace announced its eFlyer 800, with Oxis Energy at its battery supplier, in April. The eight-seat electric airplane is targeting a maximum range of 500 nautical miles (925 km). Bye Aerospace Image

Now that the assets of Oxis Energy have been sold to the global science and chemicals company Johnson Matthey, Bye told eVTOL.com that his company is “not reliant upon Johnson Matthey, nor any other single advanced battery cell or technology provider,” for any of its electric aircraft programs.

“We are organized in our programs with multiple cell development teams around the world. Multiple sources are working to provide next-generation lithium-sulfur chemistry and cell configurations,” Bye said in an email.

The accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP announced the sale of Oxis Energy’s assets and intellectual property (IP) to Johnson Matthey on July 28. In a press release, Johnson Matthey characterized the acquisition as a step toward accelerating the scale-up of its green hydrogen business.

Additionally, Oxis Energy’s “considerable IP portfolio in next-generation lithium-sulfur and adjacent battery technologies presents opportunities for [Johnson Matthey’s] battery materials business to advance its development of future battery material technologies,” the press release said.

Conspicuously absent was any mention of Bye Aerospace, which had been counting on Oxis to achieve a battery energy density at the cell level of 550 Watt-hours per kilogram to hit the eFlyer 800’s performance targets. A Johnson Matthey spokesperson confirmed to eVTOL.com that “Johnson Matthey acquired the physical assets and IP of Oxis Energy, but not the Oxis Energy business itself, and hence did not acquire Oxis customer relationships.”

Although neither company confirmed whether or how they will work together in the future, Bye Aerospace continues to tout the eFlyer 800’s momentum. On July 29, the company announced that the Colorado-based aircraft leasing company Skye Aviation had completed purchase deposits for 15 eFlyer 800 aircraft, which promise significantly reduced operating costs compared to conventional turboprops like the Beechcraft King Air.

In addition to the eFlyer 800, Bye Aerospace is pursuing certification of the two-seat eFlyer 2 and four-seat eFlyer 4 electric airplanes. Prior to going bankrupt, Oxis Energy had also expressed an interest in supplying its lithium-sulfur battery technology for eVTOL aircraft.

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