Flux-Switching Machine Based All-Electric Power Train for Future Aircraft

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Santa Cruz, California
Project Term:
03/24/2021 - 09/23/2024

Technology Description:

Power density and efficiency are crucial to electric propulsion for future aviation systems. The University of California, Santa Cruz proposes a novel all-electric power train. Each aspect of the proposed power train encompasses unique technology. The machinery relies on a flux-switching motor with high temperature superconducting field coils, which is smaller and lighter than conventional designs and has an immense advantage in terms of thermal management. The electronics are based on state-of-the-art silicon carbide-based multilevel inverter technology, which can easily interface to a medium-voltage power supply and lower electromagnetic noise and insulation stress on the motor. Preliminary designs using wide-bandgap semiconductor devices indicate that the necessary power density can be achieved. An innovative cryogenic system using solid or slushed coolant will cool stationary high-temperature superconductor field coils at 60K. Traditional air cooling will be used for the drive.

Potential Impact:

The ASCEND program has the potential to accelerate innovations and cause disruptive changes in the emerging electric aviation field.


The program will further enhance U.S. technology dominance in the field of high-performance electric motors for hybrid electric aviation. Electrified aircraft architectures can increase reliability by increasing redundancy.


An all-electric propulsion system operating on CNLF would have net-zero emissions and be much quieter for passengers and people in the vicinity of airports.


By targeting propulsion system efficiency and specific power improvements, CNLF-powered, zero-net emission aircraft will be capable of a longer range and reduced fuel cost, making them economically more attractive.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Peter de Bock
Project Contact:
Dr. Leila Parsa
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Air Force Research Laboratory

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