Collins Aerospace announced their intentions to develop the world’s first 1MW electric aircraft motor. With a $50 million dollar investment towards an electric systems lab, named the “Grid”, in Illinois, Collins Aerospace looks to soon provide aircraft and eVTOL manufacturers with a practical and vastly more efficient electric drivetrain.

The Grid will be put to work on developing a working model for a fully electric aircraft motor capable of outputting 1MW. Based in Rockford, Illinois, the 25,000 square-foot facility is outfitted with 4 independent modular electric power systems that will be ready to go by 2021. Both Collins Aerospace and their holding company, United Technologies, have large expectations for this investment. According to Collins Aerospace CEO Kelly Ortberg, “Our internal UTC studies indicate that commercial electric and hybrid electric propulsion could reduce aircraft noise by up to 85 percent, can improve fuel consumption by up to 40 percent, can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 20 percent and reduce airline operating and maintenance costs by up to 20 percent.”

To develop an electric engine that would be able to rival the power output of a generator in a Boeing 787, Collins Aerospace will begin with Project 804. Project 804 is Collins Aerospace’s first project, to develop a hybrid-electric flight demonstrator. Project 804 will use a Bombardier Dash-8 with a 2MW hybrid-electric powertrain. According to Ortberg, “The goal of Project 804, developed by the company’s advanced projects group, is to re-engine and fly a regional turboprop aircraft powered by a 2 megawatt-class hybrid-electric propulsion system on a highly aggressive timeline. The advanced projects group combines the engineering expertise and experience of Collins Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney and UTC’s research center.”

More details on Project 804 can be found here

A render of the inside of the Grid

Why it’s important: Collins Aerospace will have a lot of work to do to create a practical, powerful electric drivetrain capable of meeting their goals. The electric motor will most likely need vast improvements in efficiency while maintaining practicality and safety standards. However, if this project does result with a working electric drivetrain capable of outputting 1MW, development and manufacturing off fully electric VTOLs as opposed to hybrid electric models for the UAM industry could happen within the next decade. 

Sources // Clean Technica

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Posted by Naish Gaubatz

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