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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

EADS showcases VoltAir all-electric propulsion system concept

June 22, 2011

  • No carbon dioxide emission during flight
  • Next-generation energy storage
  • Ultra high density electric engines
  • Enhanced passenger comfort
Flying High with batteries – EADS Innovation Works, the corporate research and technology network of EADS, is showcasing an allelectric propulsion system concept at Le Bourget. The VoltAir technology concept platform supports the vision of a zero-emission air vehicle which could become a reality 20 years from today. VoltAir is one of the projects that are grouped under the name of eCO2avia by EADS Innovation Works as part of the EADS Group’s research towards achieving the aviation industry’s climate protection goals.

The VoltAir’s next-generation electric energy storage system (batteries) will power highly efficient superconducting electric motors which drive counter-rotating, shrouded propellers. Combined with a radical approach to airframe design, the expected promising developments in electric propulsion technologies could pave the way towards ultra-quiet and emission-free flight.

“VoltAir is an upstream research concept, not a near-term commercial approach”, said Jean Botti, Chief Technical Officer of EADS. “Our research is very forward-looking and could be beneficial in different applications. As a systems architect for aircraft, we are pushing the envelope in this research to stimulate new ideas. The objective here is to push the envelope to move towards more electric, emission free propulsion.” Boosted by the large demand for automotive applications and emerging hybrid and fully electric cars, high-density electric energy storage systems achieved impressive advances in their capabilities during the last decade. The capabilities of today’s batteries are still far away from what is theoretically possible. New materials with promising capabilities for a new generation of energy storage are currently being investigated. Some of them are based on lithium-air and lithium-sulphur combinations.

Scientists expect these batteries to exceed energy densities of 1000 Wh/kg within the next two decades, which would mean more than doubling today’s performance. The VoltAir concept is based on the assumption that the required level of energy density can be achieved within the timeframe mentioned.
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