With the combined efforts of Rolls-Royce and ACCEL, the electric plane that is supposed to break the speed record for e-planes has progressed. The design of the plane has now been presented – the date for the attempt is looming in spring 2020.
Engineers from engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce joined forces with partners in the ACCEL project (short for Accelerating the Electrification of Flight) to develop the world’s fastest electric aircraft. The propeller-driven single-seater is white and blue, and the fuselage has been optimized for the best possible aerodynamics.
“This is not only an important step towards the world-record attempt but will also help to develop Rolls-Royce’s capabilities and ensure that we are at the forefront of developing technology that can play a fundamental role in enabling the transition to a low carbon global economy,” said Rob Watson, Director of Roll-Royce Electrical, at the launch.
The next step will be the integration of the electric drive system to break the record with a target speed of 480 km/h in late spring 2020. In the meantime, the engine manufacturer is also providing further details about the drive system. This consists of three axially arranged electric motors, which together are to produce 367 kW for the (unspecified) duration of the record flight. Compared to a conventional aircraft, the propeller blades rotate at a much lower speed to achieve a more stable and quiet position in the air.
The battery system consisting of its 6,000 round cells should be sufficient for a flight between London and Paris (just under 320 kilometres) or be able to supply the equivalent of 250 households with electricity. The cells are to be arranged very compactly for a lighter construction; due to the high power requirement, they will be cooled directly.
Gary Elliott, CEO of the Aerospace Technology Institute said that this project “…will be a critical step in our understanding of how electric propulsion fits into that broader aspiration for the UK aerospace sector.” He carried on to say, “We are also excited about the way it establishes a new and innovative supply chain, bringing together the best of the UK that includes cross-sector expertise, start-up energy and critical domain leadership”.
Extensive tests are planned in the coming months before the record attempt is launched.
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