World-record electric motor for aircraft

April 16, 2015
To slim down the end shield, Siemens developed a special optimization algorithm and integrated it into the Siemens CAE-Program NX Nastran.

Siemens researchers have developed a new type of electric motor that, with a weight of just 50 kilograms, delivers a continuous output of about 260 kilowatts – five times more than comparable drive systems. The motor has been specially designed for use in aircraft. Thanks to its record-setting power-to-weight ratio, larger aircraft with takeoff weights of up to two tons will now be able to use electric drives for the first time.

To implement the world-record motor, Siemens' experts scrutinized all the components of previous motors and optimized them up to their technical limits. New simulation techniques and sophisticated lightweight construction enabled the drive system to achieve a unique weight-to-performance ratio of five kilowatts (kW) per kilogram (kg). The electric motors of comparable strength that are used in industrial applications deliver less than one kW per kg. The performance of the drive systems used in electric vehicles is about two kW per kg. Since the new motor delivers its record-setting performance at rotational speeds of just 2,500 revolutions per minute, it can drive propellers directly, without the use of a transmission. "This innovation will make it possible to build series hybrid-electric with four or more seats," said Frank Anton, Head of eAircraft at Siemens Corporate Technology, the company's central research unit. The motor is scheduled to begin flight-testing before the end of 2015. In the next step, the Siemens researchers will boost output further. "We're convinced that the use of hybrid-electric drives in regional airliners with 50 to 100 passengers is a real medium-term possibility," said Anton.

The development of this motor was supported by the German Aviation Research Program LuFo in a project of Grob Aircraft and Siemens.

In 2013, Siemens, Airbus and Diamond Aircraft successfully flight-tested a series hybrid-electric drive in a DA36 E-Star 2 glider for the first time. The test aircraft had a power output of 60 kW.

Since the new motor delivers its record-setting performance at rotational speeds of just 2,500 revolutions per minute, it can drive propellers directly, without the use of a transmission. "This innovation will make it possible to build series hybrid-electric aircraft with four or more seats," said Frank Anton, Head of eAircraft at Siemens Corporate Technology, the company's central research unit.

Thanks to its record-setting power-to-weight ratio, larger aircraft with takeoff weights of up to two tons will now be able to use electric drives for the first time.

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27 comments

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BSD
4.6 / 5 (16) Apr 16, 2015
One more kick in the head of the oil industry. It's energy monopoly will end one day.

The Middle East will become goat herders once again.
antialias_physorg
4.6 / 5 (11) Apr 16, 2015
"We're convinced that the use of hybrid-electric drives in regional airliners with 50 to 100 passengers is a real medium-term possibility,"

That would be quite a step forward. I seem to have read somewhere that regional airplanes have a higher turnover than long distance planes, so the switchover to electric planes could happen fairly fast once this type of engine makes it to market. Airports would also make ideal places for massive electrical energy storage which could be tied into the grid to alleviate fluctuations in supply/demand.

For airlines it would also make a lot of sense in terms of being able to plan ahead. Electricity costs fluctuate a lot less than keroseone costs. Add to that the lower maintenance costs for this type of motor then this could be a real winner.

(ON the other hand: I wonder what the contrail conspiracy theorists will say when electric planes are flying through the sky.)
gkam
4.5 / 5 (10) Apr 16, 2015
EM contrails???
MR166
4 / 5 (4) Apr 16, 2015
"This innovation will make it possible to build series hybrid-electric aircraft with four or more seats,"

I don't think that they are talking about a battery powered plane here. Hybrid-electric is a fossil powered engine driving a generator which powers the electric motor.
gkam
4.3 / 5 (7) Apr 16, 2015
Another step away from fossils. Those liquids can have any source, with our technologies.
gkam
4 / 5 (7) Apr 16, 2015
That's a pretty small motor for almost 350 hp. Imagine what it could do with superconducting windings.

Instead of heavy and noisy and polluting ICE engines, this would more likely be powered by fuel cells using reformed liquids.
MR166
4.5 / 5 (2) Apr 16, 2015
Gcam I think that the fuel cell would have to be powered by H2. As far as I know, any fuel cell that runs on hydrocarbons produces electricity with the H2 and only heat with the carbon. Thus it would be very inefficient to use anything but H2 in an airplane. If you are talking about stationary power plants where the heat can be used for other purposes then the heat is useful.
gkam
3 / 5 (2) Apr 16, 2015
I am referring to reformers, which release the hydrogen in the fuel. PEM cells would then convert it directly to electricity.

Solid Oxide or Molten Carbonate fuel cells can self-reform, as can some other high-temperature variations. Go to 20,000 feet and see if you need heat.
Scottingham
3.8 / 5 (4) Apr 16, 2015
The reliability of these motors is also likely the be significantly higher than reciprocating engines and significantly cheaper than turbine technology. It should also require much less maintenance.

I'd like to see it paired with a rotary IC engine...like the Liquid Piston motor:
http://liquidpist...t-works/
casualjoe
4.6 / 5 (5) Apr 16, 2015
I'm guessing they designed the motor to make use of the cold and high speed air coming in through the front during flight, allowing them to up the amps.
Scottingham
5 / 5 (3) Apr 16, 2015
Give me four of them...I want to make me a quad-copter!
hillmeister
5 / 5 (4) Apr 16, 2015
The future is fossil free! :D
casualjoe
not rated yet Apr 16, 2015
YASA motors do general purpose motors of comparable performance, I think they look rad despite them being of an axial flux confuguration.
HeloMenelo
not rated yet Apr 16, 2015
The electric motor, a personal favorite, i'm am ecstatic about it's future :D
rufusgwarren
not rated yet Apr 16, 2015
How? By optimizing the magnetic field per oz.

I would have controlled current with as many lines as possible, thus decreasing the switching current. Using Mosfets with a parallel Mosfet as current sense using Rd and the sensed voltage across the series resistor of the parallel mosfet carrying very little current and voltage sensed by a diff amp and controlled "visibility", i.e. note when off is off and when on and max and current control with digitally controlled feedback. Along with speed control, the current infer torque, etc. then maximization per implementation. The nano-material, if it exist, would optimize the magnetic field.

So how did Siemens do it?
rufusgwarren
not rated yet Apr 16, 2015
Placing most of the control onto the stator eliminates excessive wiring and allows for a set of essential controls to be sent to the motor, i.e. a smart motor! Would love to see the modern stator!
rufusgwarren
not rated yet Apr 16, 2015
The picture looks like a poly-phase motor, but does this really require AC input, i.e. if the conversion is only for the motor. Think of the current within a given area of the stator as controllable with any shape, frequency and current. Is 3 phase the optimum for the rotating field? in other words, what else can be eliminated, maybe not much, still need energy source but not so much conversion, variation in the source can be tolerated with proper motor control.

Siemens, I've done work for you and you are way above my head!
marko
5 / 5 (3) Apr 17, 2015
The new Rutherford Rocket Engine uses a high powered brushless DC electric motor as the pump driver for its liquid propellant engine.

http://aviationwe...tLab.jpg

Surely propeller driven craft are not the only advanced application of these high performance electric motors.

Also, we need to go further with carbon electric motors having high current density windings made from carbon nanotube/graphene wires.
PPihkala
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 17, 2015
Look up MYT engine. It is ICE with 1/40 the weight of current ICE and better fuel economy. That will enable personal flight without going to series hybrid.
DirtySquirties
5 / 5 (2) Apr 17, 2015
I hope it's a lot quieter too. It's so irritating how loud those little prop airplanes are when they fly over my house. Sometimes I swear the pilots are trying to make as much noise as they can on purpose...
betterexists
2 / 5 (1) Apr 17, 2015
Actually, it is the Private Planes that also need Electric Battery; The owners of planes either do business using those planes or tend to have more money. So, they can afford to spend some extra money on the new technology until it becomes cheap & affordable for everyone in the Autos. And They can always use Hybrid Engines and have a provision to get the fuel added in mid-air by some specialist companies and finally can use parachutes to safely land in some uninhabited areas. They should use sensors for all necessary purposes!
Also, they do have planes that can run as cars now a days in case of any need.
Stevepidge
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 17, 2015
EM contrails???


More EMF pollution. In the future RFR/ EMF pollution will be seen in the same vein as carbon based fuels.
ab3a
5 / 5 (2) Apr 17, 2015
I hope it's a lot quieter too. It's so irritating how loud those little prop airplanes are when they fly over my house. Sometimes I swear the pilots are trying to make as much noise as they can on purpose...


Most of the noise comes from the propeller blades making shock waves in the air. The engine is only a small part of what you hear on the ground. This is especially the case when the aircraft is climbing. The propeller is set to a fine pitch and it spins at the maximum speed it can maintain without the tips popping the sound barrier (like a whip). These situations are very noisy and there isn't much you can do about it. Do note that it is still significantly more energy efficient than a jet aircraft engine would be.
ab3a
5 / 5 (3) Apr 17, 2015
So, they can afford to spend some extra money on the new technology until it becomes cheap & affordable for everyone in the Autos.


The issue isn't money. The issue is certification of the technology and the bureaucracy behind it. It takes ridiculous money and frightening levels of bureaucracy. As the saying goes, a plane won't be certified until the paper documenting it is equal to the maximum gross weight of the aircraft. If you're interested in innovating these days, there are easier places to do it than aviation.
Nik_2213
not rated yet Apr 18, 2015
Scott', the enduring problem with such rotary engines is the sliding seal. Until they figure a way to renew them as easily as carbon brushes on a 'trad' electric motor, that is...
Returners
1 / 5 (1) Apr 19, 2015
Gcam I think that the fuel cell would have to be powered by H2. As far as I know, any fuel cell that runs on hydrocarbons produces electricity with the H2 and only heat with the carbon. Thus it would be very inefficient to use anything but H2 in an airplane. If you are talking about stationary power plants where the heat can be used for other purposes then the heat is useful.


Thermo-electrics can capture 10% of heat waste and convert to more electricity, so there's that to think about..

It might be possible one day to charge the engine of an aircraft in-flight via Thunderstorms or via a laser from the surface, either of which would be more efficient, potentially, than an ICE engine.
MR166
not rated yet Apr 19, 2015
"Thermo-electrics can capture 10% of heat waste and convert to more electricity, so there's that to think about..

It might be possible one day to charge the engine of an aircraft in-flight via Thunderstorms or via a laser from the surface, either of which would be more efficient, potentially, than an ICE engine."

The only thing keeping airplanes from using thunderstorms to power their engines is the scarcity of suitable flux-capacitors. But my green company has just ordered over 100 tons of di-lithium crystals and we plan to start production of terajoule flux-capacitors as soon as the government funding is finalized.

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