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Thursday, 30 June 2011

Advanced Magnet Lab leads research on electric jet
June 29, 2011

The electric jetliner.

It's not a 1960s rock band, the subject of a science fiction tale or the punchline of a joke.

It is, or at least could be, a future transportation option made possible in part by a Palm Bay technology company.

Aided by a $900,000 grant from NASA, Advanced Magnet Lab's scientists will develop a computer model to tell the agency how to build electric motors and generators small yet powerful enough to drive the jet's turbofans.

NASA's goal is to reduce fuel consumption and pollution emissions.

"They're looking for the next technology," AML senior research scientist Philippe Masson said. "The whole concept relies on the validity of that (electric) motor. It's going to be very difficult to reach those goals with conventional technologies."

During the first year of the three-year project, AML will focus on computer analysis. Working models will be built in the second and third years. With the NASA grant and other projects, including a Department of Energy award that could bring in up to $700,000 for work on large wind turbine coils, the Brevard company with eight workers expects to add 50 to 100 employees during the next two years.

NASA envisions its electric airliner could be built by 2035. The 300-passenger, blended-wing design with a wingspan of 134 feet would emit 70 percent less air pollution.

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