The federally funded program is part of an effort to advance the electrification of transportation sectors.

Aurora Flight Sciences, a Boeing company, has been selected to develop an emission-free, high-energy density, and high-efficiency energy storage and power generation solution through a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The funding is part of ARPA-E’s Pioneering Railroad, Oceanic and Plane ELectrification with 1K energy storage systems (PROPEL-1K) program, which aims to develop energy storage systems with “1K” technologies capable of achieving or exceeding 1000 Watt-hour per kilogram (Wh/kg) and 1000 Watt-hour per liter (Wh/L) with energy efficiency higher than 70 percent.

Aurora Flight Sciences is collaborating with Boeing Research & Technology, the University of California San Diego, the University of South Carolina, and Storagenergy Technologies to develop an innovative aluminum air (Al-Air) energy storage and power generation (ESPG) system. In this system, aluminum combustion results in the production of hydrogen that powers a solid-oxide fuel cell. The heat and electricity generated by this process are subsequently utilized for propulsion. By combining high-energy density aluminum fuel with efficient energy extraction and conversion, the system can effectively convert stored energy into usable power, reducing waste and improving overall performance.

The system design utilizes a platform that separates energy and power, allowing for swappable energy boxes or pumpable fuel that can be rapidly and seamlessly charged and discharged mechanically from the vehicle. The high-energy power generation system is made possible by aluminum, the most abundant, recyclable, and lowest-risk element in the supply chain. The system is designed to be versatile, compact, and lightweight to facilitate seamless integration into different vehicle platforms.

Over the next 18 months, the team will develop a model and design a prototype with a minimum capacity of 1kWh to prove the concept and demonstrate performance. The Al-Air ESPG system offers immense potential for electrifying transportation and advancing towards a cleaner, more sustainable future.


Aurora Flight Sciences, a Boeing Company, advances the future of flight by developing and applying innovations across aircraft configurations, autonomous systems, propulsion technologies, and manufacturing processes. With a passionate and agile team, Aurora delivers solutions to its customers’ toughest challenges while meeting high standards of safety and quality. Learn more at