Superconducting Motor and Cryo-Cooled Inverter Engine: SOARING

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Program:
ASCEND
Award:
$1,812,824
Location:
East Hartford,
Connecticut
Status:
ACTIVE
Project Term:
08/06/2021 - 11/11/2025

Critical Need:

It is estimated that flights on narrow-body aircraft, such as the Boeing 737, are responsible for nearly half of aviation-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A decarbonized, B737-like aircraft with electrified propulsion would provide the greatest impact on GHG emissions from a single aircraft type. ARPA-E seeks to mitigate the growing environmental burden associated with commercial air travel at minimum economic cost by developing elements of an ultra-high efficient aircraft propulsion system that uses carbon neutral liquid fuels (CNLFs). It is anticipated that the developed lightweight and high efficiency all-electric powertrains will find direct application in the emerging urban air mobility, unmanned aircraft aerial vehicle, and select regional aircraft markets. These markets are likely to be the first adopters before the technology scales to a single-aisle aircraft.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Raytheon Technologies Research Center, with the University of Tennessee, Hyper Tech Research Inc., the Ohio State University, and Pacific Northwest National Labs will develop a novel 2.5 MW, 5000 rpm Superconducting mOtor And cRyo-cooled Inverter eNGine (SOARING) for aircraft electric propulsion that can achieve greater than 93% efficiency and 12.5 kW/kg power. State-of-the-art cryocoolers are inefficient and heavy, making them impractical to carry on the plane. The proposed complete system consists of a cryogenically cooled aerospace-grade, fully superconducting synchronous motor, a novel wide bandgap semiconductor device-based power converter, and an advanced magnetocaloric adaptive cryocooler. The cryogenic cooling capability is enabled by the aircraft’s carbon-neutral liquid fuel which acts as a heat sink for the electric powertrain. This synergetic approach offers extreme high-power densities and optimizes overall system performance.

Potential Impact:

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

Security:

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.

Environment:

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.

Economy:

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.

Contact

ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Peter de Bock
Project Contact:
Dr. Parag Kshirsagar
Press and General Inquiries Email:
ARPA-E-Comms@hq.doe.gov
Project Contact Email:
parag.kshirsagar@rtx.com

Partners

Hyper Tech Research Inc.
University of Tennessee
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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Release Date:
12/17/2019