The Rolls-Royce aerospace company clearly has its eyes set on new horizons when it comes to flight travel. Then again, the company’s mission to break a speed record in an all-electric airplane, as detailed in a Rolls-Royce press release, could help shape vehicle engineering in a number of different ways.
- The Rolls-Royce aerospace company is developing a purely electric airplane, with a goal of breaking a speed record of 300-plus mph.
- Part of a collaborative effort, the all-electric airplane will be capable of traveling 200 miles on a single charge.
- Some of the electric technology used for the airplane project could help pilot future Rolls-Royce road vehicles as well.
The all-electric Rolls-Royce airplane is a collaborative initiative focused on exploring new ideas around electrification. (Photo: Rolls-Royce)
Electrification In Flight
The aerospace company, Rolls-Royce, is aiming to take its engineering capabilities to new heights.
Pushing to help champion electrification, the engineering company, once tied to the luxury car brand, now has its eyes set on breaking a speed record in the first all-electric airplane.
The plane, part of Rolls-Royce’s “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight” (ACCEL), will be equipped with the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft, providing enough energy to fly 200 miles on a single charge. The plane’s 6,000 cells are packaged to minimize weight and maximize thermal protection. The all-electric aircraft also features an advanced cooling system that’s engineered to ensure optimum performance, by directly cooling cells during the high-power record run, set to take place in late Spring of 2020.
Electrifying an airplane to reach optimal speeds is a very complex project, as detailed in the above diagram. (Photo: Rolls-Royce)
Charged for More
Unlike a conventional plane, the ACCEL aircraft’s propeller is driven by three high power density axial electric motors that propeller blades that spin at a far lower RPM to deliver a more stable and quieter ride, notes Rolls-Royce. Combined, the plane’s electric motors will continuously deliver more than 500 horsepower, with a goal of reaching a top speed of 300-plus mph.
According to Rolls-Royce, even during the record run, the zero-emissions plane’s all-electric powertrain will deliver power with 90% energy efficiency. By comparison, a Formula 1 race car tops out at close to 50% energy efficiency.
The ACCEL project was done in collaboration with a number of partners including the electric motor and controller manufacturer YASA; the aviation start-up, Electroflight; and the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Reading between the lines, It’s clear that the Rolls-Royce ACCEL aerospace project is aimed at much more than just breaking a speed record. The looming question becomes: What kind of other vehicle applications, looking to utilize the Rolls-Royce all-electric technology, are waiting in the wings?