Russia Take Off in Electric Engine Market

  • The electric traction concepts are the most attractive at present.
  • Boeing is working on the hybrid engine prototype.
  • The reduction of pollution and noise is attractive to the industry.

Currently, the airline industry is experiencing challenging times due to the Coronavirus. The number of infected people surpassed 15 million around the world. However, the aviation industry needs next generation technology. One of the main objectives is to have a more cost efficient fleet and also reduce the noise levels.

Superconductivity is the set of physical properties observed in certain materials where electrical resistance vanishes and magnetic flux fields are expelled from the material. Promising future applications include high-performance smart grid, electric power transmission, transformers, power storage devices, or electric motors.

The electric traction concepts are the most attractive at present. The superconducting machines are the most viable way to achieve the power densities required in onboard applications.

Last week, the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research announced that a prototype of an aircraft engine that uses high-temperature superconductivity has been successfully tested. The engine is the first of its kind. The laboratory testing of the new system demonstrated its operation in normal and emergency modes.

To note, the utilization of superconductivity allows an increase in efficiency of the electric engine to 100%.  At present, Airbus, Wright Electric, and Zunum Aero are engaged in building hybrid prototypes. The hybrid concept entails an operation of electric machines in tandem with turbine engines for traction.

NASA is also outlined plans to develop the N3-x aircraft. This should reduce fuel consumption by 70% by using two gas-fired HTS generators to power distributed fan HTS engines.

To electric motors for aircraft, in comparison with electric motors for electric vehicles, impose much more extreme requirements and primarily in the ratio of weight and power output. Thus, conventional electric motors, consisting of copper, iron and permanent magnets, the design of which is quite suitable for electric vehicles, do not meet the stated requirements for aircraft.

Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects is an advanced military research agency. The foundation is tasked with informing the country’s leadership on projects that can ensure Russian superiority in defense technology.

Russian company Superox is one of the world’s five largest suppliers of materials with high temperature superconductivity properties (HTSP). Now Superox develops electric motors with a stator made of superconducting materials. These engines with good characteristics for aviation will become the basis of a hybrid power plant for a regional aircraft, which may take to the skies in the middle of the next decade.

According to the Superox website, Superox was established in 2006 to develop a technology for the production of materials based on textured coatings of high-temperature superconductors on metal tapes-htsp-tapes of the 2nd generation.

One of the biggest challenges pertaining to the superconducting materials’ wider use is the cost of the energy. Nevertheless, the price continues to decline. Hence. the affordability allows to have wider applications.

Overall, in aviation the prospects for electric planes seem even further than electric ships. At the same time, reducing fuel consumption is not only necessary to reduce emissions, but also a powerful financial factor for the aviation industry.

Additionally, the reduction of pollution and noise is attractive to the industry as well. We live in the world, where sustainability and environmental impact is very relevant topic for millennials.

The technology continues to evolve, and it is highly likely by 2030, the superconducting engines will become a norm. There are many benefits to such technology.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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