An electric aircraft engine five times more powerful than existing electric aircraft motors has been developed by German engineering giant Siemens, paving the way for commercial-scale electricity-powered air transportation.
Weighing just a little over 50kg, the engine delivers 260kW of power, five times more than comparable systems.
Siemens said the device has been specifically designed for use in aircraft and could support a take-off of an aeroplane weighing up to two tonnes of weight. Such large planes, the firm stated, had not been able to use electric engines before.
“This innovation will make it possible to build series hybrid-electric aircraft with four or more seats,” said Frank Anton, head of eAircraft at Siemens Corporate Technology, the company’s central research unit.
“We’re convinced that the use of hybrid-electric drives in regional airliners with 50 to 100 passengers is a real medium-term possibility.”
The firm said its experts focused on each component of the revolutionary motor and optimised it up to its technical limits to achieve maximum performance.
The lightweight device provides 5kW of power per kilogram of weight – an outstanding ratio considering that conventional electric motors used in industrial applications deliver less than 1kW/kg. Drive systems used in electric vehicles usually provide about 2kW/kg, less than a half of what the Siemens engineers have achieved.
The motor is scheduled to begin flight-testing before the end of 2015. In the next step, the researchers will attempt to boost output even further.
The motor delivers its record-setting performance at rotational speeds of just 2,500 revolutions per minute, allowing it to drive propellers directly, without the use of a transmission.
Siemens is a pioneer in electric and hybrid electric aircraft engine technology. In 2013, the firm successfully tested a series of hybrid-electric motors in cooperation with Airbus and Diamond Aircraft. The motor, providing 60kW, was used to power the DA36 E-Star 2 glider, which was first introduced at the Paris Airshow in 2013.