Wright Electric to develop electric aviation for ARPA-E
The electric aircraft developer Wright Electric was contracted by the DoE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to support the development of lightweight and ultra-efficient electric propulsion motors, drives, and thermal management systems for commercial electric aircraft.
Wright Electric first entered the scene as a startup in 2017 with bold plans to electrify commercial aircraft. The company then partnered up with EasyJet and announced the development of an electric commercial aircraft by 2019, which was to be able to fly from London to Amsterdam. This was not the only area where the company has been active, as they also partnered with Airbus to develop a hybrid electric aircraft solution.
And while the Covid-19 crisis has certainly not been kind to air travel, it was announced in February that plans had progressed to the point that development was underway for an electric propulsion system for a 186-seat electric aircraft called Wright 1.
The new partnership is a different situation, however, as they are no longer just dealing with commercial partners. As part of the ARPA-E program, Wright has some specific targets and will design propulsion systems that use innovations in integrated cooling, power electronics, and structural design with the potential to enable power densities beyond 12 kW/kg. The deal will consist of a research and design phase, with a prototype expected. Funding was awarded under ARPA-E’s Aviation-class Synergistically Cooled Electric-motors with iNtegrated Drives (ASCEND) program, and will include $647,039 for the initial phase of “detailed design and subcomponent testing”.