Ground Tests of Superconducting Electric Aircraft Engine Begin in Russia

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Ground tests of the world’s first electric hybrid aircraft engine based on a superconducting system has commenced in Chaplygin in Novosibirsk, Russia.

Following the successful ground tests, a flying laboratory based on the Yak-40 aircraft will be created, according to the General Director of the Research Center Zhukovsky, Andrey Dutov.

The General Director added that such aircraft should commence flying around 2030. The engine has no comparables in the world, and representatives of Airbus and Siemens approached the institute with a proposal for cooperation.

The creators of the electric motor hope that in two years there will be another laboratory that will be able to fly on electric motors without additional motors, Russian MoD’s TV channel, tvzvezda.ru reported on February 5.

Several research efforts are progressing in different parts of the world for a superconductor based electric engine for aviation applications. However, this could well the first such effort that has reached the testing stage.

According to a research paper presented at the 2019 International Conference on Electrotechnical Complexes and Systems (ICOECS) held in Ufa, Russia, a 1.5 kW prototype of the all-superconducting electric motor for hybrid distributed propulsion system was developed by a team of researchers from the Moscow Aviation Institute.

The most promising concept for high temperature superconducting electric machines with high specific parameters technically feasible in the near future is a fully superconducting synchronous electric machine with a nonmagnetic core, the paper said.

The researchers from Moscow Aviation Institute led by Konstantin Kovalev wrote in the paper: “At the output power of more than 1 MW, the specific power is anticipated to exceed 10 kW/kg at 77 K. The fundamentals of theory and the analytical technique for calculating the basic parameters of a fully high temperature superconducting electric machine with an outer ferromagnetic screen have been developed.

To refine the developed analytical method, the 1.5 kW prototype of the all-superconducting electric motor has shown that the analytical calculation provides sufficient accuracy in determining specific power and other basic parameters of fully superconducting electrical machine,” the researchers wrote.

In 2015 Rolls Royce had presented the concept of the N3-X Turbo electric Distributed Propulsion (TeDP) Air Vehicle based on a cryogenically cooled superconducting DC TeDP Electrical System – Tasked with providing aircraft propulsion and some level of differential thrust for directional control. The current status of this project is not known.