With 14 electric motors turning propellers and all of them integrated into a uniquely-designed wing, NASA will test new propulsion technology using an experimental airplane now designated the X-57 and nicknamed “Maxwell.” This artist’s concept of the X-57 shows the plane’s specially designed wing and 14 electric motors. NASA Aeronautics researchers will use the Maxwell to demonstrate that electric propulsion can make planes quieter, more efficient and more environmentally friendly.
NASA’s aeronautical innovators hope to validate the idea that distributing electric power across a number of motors integrated with an aircraft in this way will result in a five-time reduction in the energy required for a private plane to cruise at 175 mph.
Several other benefits would result as well. “Maxwell” will be powered only by batteries, eliminating carbon emissions and demonstrating how demand would shrink for lead-based aviation fuel still in use by general aviation.
Energy efficiency at cruise altitude using X-57 technology could benefit travelers by reducing flight times, fuel usage, as well as reducing overall operational costs for small aircraft by as much as 40 percent. Typically, to get the best fuel efficiency an airplane has to fly slower than it is able. Electric propulsion essentially eliminates the penalty for cruising at higher speeds.
Finally, as most drivers of hybrid electric cars know, electric motors are more quiet than conventional piston engines. The X-57’s electric propulsion technology is expected to significantly decrease aircraft noise, making it less annoying to the public.
Siemens goes Rolls-Royce for Electric?
Siemens and Rolls-Royce signed an agreement on June 18, 2019 at the International Paris Air Show in Le Bourget (France) for the sale of Siemens’ eAircraft unit. Closing is subject to the usual conditions and is expected to take place in late 2019.Siemens sells electric aircraft-propulsion business to Rolls-RoyceSiemens and Rolls-Royce signed an agreement on June 18, 2019 at the International Paris Air Show in Le Bourget (France) for the sale of Siemens’ eAircraft unit. Closing is subject to the usual conditions and is expected to take place in late 2019.
As an in-house startup with around 180 employees, Siemens eAircraft develops electric and hybrid-electric propulsion systems for the aerospace industry. At locations in Munich and Erlangen (Germany) and Budapest (Hungary), the unit has been cooperating with partners like Airbus to create prototypes for propulsion systems with power ratings ranging from less than one hundred to several thousand kilowatts – for instance for the Airbus air taxi, the CityAirbus. To further drive the technology, eAircraft entered a development partnership with Airbus in 2016. Siemens has been researching and developing electric aircraft propulsion systems for about ten years, setting several records along the way.
New Electric Motor for Airplanes
Now a company called magniX has developed a family of electric motors. All designed specifically for commercial aviation applications. Be it a single motor application, or as part of a multi-motor aircraft, the magniX motors offer the same level of industry leading redundancy and reliability second to none. The magni250 and magni500 both share a multi 3-phase architecture and turn at 1900RPM enabling a direct to propeller connection. They both integrate with standard propeller governors allowing for seamless adoption of current and future variable-pitch propellers.