Feasibility Analysis and Modelling of MgB2 Superconducting Electrical Power Machines

Lead Participant: Epoch Wires Limited

Abstract

Europe's Flightpath 2050 vision and NASA's Fixed Wing Project aims to achieve a 75% reduction in CO2 emissions and 70% reduction in aircraft fuel-burn. The UK Aerospace Technology Institute has recently launched its equally ambitious targets to develop aircraft with efficient propulsion technologies. Future aircraft will redefine tomorrow's aviation landscape and will require disruptive technologies to achieve long term objectives, in terms of reduction in noise levels, fuel burn and emissions.

Electric and hybrid-electric propulsion are foreseen to be the most promising technologies for addressing these challenges. It has been demonstrated that multiple motor-driven fans reduce drag and utilise boundary layer ingestion resulting in lower fuel burn and lower emissions. Since conventional electrical machines and transmission systems cannot meet the high-power density requirement, one approach proposed by Airbus, Rolls Royce and NASA is to develop superconducting electrical distributed propulsion systems. According to this proposed technology, the power can be distributed from superconducting generators to superconducting motors that drive multiple propulsive fans. Light-weight superconducting motors and generators with minimised cooling requirements are solutions to bridge the technology gap for future electric aircraft.

The long-length and cost-effective Magnesium Diboride (MgB2) superconducting wires manufactured by Epoch Wires can enable lighter superconducting generators and motors designs for electric aircraft propulsion systems. Major advantages over other HTS materials include low AC loss and low manufacturing cost. This project studies the performance of MgB2 machines by bridging the gap between superconducting material manufacturing and HTS machine modelling. Fine-filament MgB2 cables coupled with small twist pitches will be manufactured by Epoch Wires for highly efficient superconducting machine applications. A new MgB2 machine model will be developed by the University of Strathclyde team based on the latest MgB2 wires' characteristics to quantify the benefits and predict the utmost limits of MgB2 HTS machines.

This project will provide a full technology appreciation of the power density and efficiency of HTS machines based on state-of-the-art MgB2 manufacturing technologies. It will also provide a technology forecast for the performance of HTS machines up to 2050. The technical evaluation and forecast will provide essential information to show how MgB2 superconducting machines can fit into the roadmap of electric aircraft development.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Epoch Wires Limited, CAMBRIDGE £296,064 £ 148,032
 

Participant

University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom £101,454 £ 101,454

Publications

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