DOE Promotes Carbon Neutrality Aeronautically

Both and CleanTechnica share information about the Department of Energy’s funding of 17 projects in two Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) categories.  Prepare for the inevitable rush of acronyms.  All the projects seem to be reserved for applications on single-aisle short- and intermediate-range airliners, with emphasis on economy of operation, carbon neutrality and lowest possible emissions.


Powertrain related, ASCEND (Aviation-class Synergistically Cooled Electric-motors with iNtegrated Drives) will fund nine projects with $14.5 in Phase 1 money.  Funds will help recipients, “Work to develop innovative, lightweight, and ultra-efficient all-electric powertrain with advanced thermal management systems that help enable efficient net-zero carbon emissions for single-aisle passenger commercial aircraft.”

  • Raytheon Technologies Research Center has three projects in two ARPA-E categories, including their own Ultra-Light, inTegrated, Reliable, Aviation-class, Co-Optimized Motor & Power converter with Advanced Cooling Technology (ULTRA-COMPACT) for which they received $2,330,13.  Their system will incorporate advanced materials and techniques in permanent magnets, drive topology, thermal management, and composite gearboxes.
  • Marquette University has been given $1.600,000 to develop a next-generation High Power Density Motor Equipped with Additively Manufactured Windings Integrated with Advanced Cooling and Modular Integrated Power Electronics.
  • General Electric Global Research adds its own acronym. $2,300,000 goes to an Electric Flightworthy Lightweight Integrated Thermally-Enhanced powertrain System (eFLITES) for Narrow-body Commercial Aircraft.  Their 2 megawatt, fully integrated all-electric aircraft powertrain will, GE claims, “Lead to significant mass reduction and thus increase in specific power density while maintaining a very high electrical-to-mechanical energy conversion efficiency.”
  • Honeywell’s Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) will receive $1,800,000.  Their “novel high-voltage 500 kW advanced electric propulsion system (AEPS) with a high efficiency and a high-power density,” and be cost effective. One feature to look for will be the intrinsic cooling system.
  • University of California, Santa Cruz is developing a Flux-Switching Machine Based All-Electric Power Train for Future Aircraft, for which they are granted $854,495. Their flux-switching motor and superconducting field coils sound advanced, and their cryogenic cooling follows suit.
  • Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station fields a Multi-Physical Co-Design of Next Generation Axial Motors for Aerospace Application, worth $1,300,000 in ARPA-E funds.  Their carbon fiber axial-flux motor, GaN multilevel inverter, nanocomposite electrical insulation, and “two phase thermal management system with zeolite thermal energy storage” will allow high power and subdue high temperatures.
  • Hyper Tech Research Inc.will receive $2,910,479 to design and demonstrate Cryo Thermal Management of High Power Density Motors and Drives.   “If successful, the system will allow for a cost-effective motor capable of operating at a higher current density compared with existing conventional non-cryogenic motors without using superconductors.”

  • Wright Electric receives $647,039 for its Second Generation Motor for Large Electric Aircraft Propulsion Systems. “The team plans to use an aggressive cooling strategy coupled with a high frequency inverter.”  Phase one will see the detailed design and subcomponent testing, with phase two leading to the actual construction and testing of the system.
  • Advanced Magnet Lab, Inc.has  $655,354 to develop its High Power Density Dual Rotor Permanent Magnet Motor with Integrated Cooling and Drive for Aircraft Propulsion.  AML seeks to develop motors with an integrated SiC drive with an “overall specific power beyond 12 kW/kg.


Eight projects will split $18.5 million in funding to develop Range Extenders for Electric Aviation with Low Carbon and High Efficiency (REEACH).

  • Raytheon Technologies Research Center focuses on a unique supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) working fluid in their Compact Propulsion Engine Optimized with Waste Heat Recovery (CO-POWER). This earns them a $2,815,760 grant.  Their sCO2 power generation and waste recovery systems are claimed to enable, “Up to a 20% fuel burn savings. The system can operate with any carbon neutral liquid fuel to achieve net-zero GHG emissions.”
  • Raytheon Technologies Research Center gains$2,652,778 to create a Zero-carbon Ammonia-Powered Turboelectric (ZAPTurbo) Propulsion System. This system, “Uses green ammonia as both a fuel and a coolant via regenerative cooling. Coke-free heating of this carbon-free ammonia fuel enables a high level of waste-heat recovery that will be used for the endothermic cracking of ammonia prior to its combustion, significantly increasing the cycle efficiency.”  The system includes battery boost for takeoffs and climbs.  Perhaps most surprising, in cruising flight, the system would have a 66-percent energy conversion efficiency.
  • General Electric Company, GE Research will use its $2,529,340 to develop its FueL CelL Embedded ENgine (FLyCLEEN).  FLyCLEEN uses “solid oxide fuel cells… integrated with the combustion chamber of a gas turbine engine-generator, yielding a hybrid system operating on synfuel with performance that maximizes the power density and energy efficiency of each component.”

  • University of Maryland receives $2,798,489 for its Hybrid SOFC-Turbogenerator for Aircraft.  (What? No acronym?)  A solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) in the flow path of a gas turbine that also drives an electrical generator and recovers waste heat and unused fuel from the fuel cell.  The system operates on carbon-neutral, liquefied bio-methane.
  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s High Performance Metal-Supported SOFC System for Range Extension of Commercial Aviation garners $2,263,000.  This energy storage and power generation (ESPG) system for aircraft propulsion will consist of metal-supported solid oxide fuel cells (MS-SOFCs) and turbogenerators using carbon-neutral synfuel.  The team promises “innovative” manufacturing techniques.
  • University of California, San Diego earns $2,131,246 for its High-Efficiency and Low-Carbon Energy Storage and Power Generation System for Electric Aviation.  The school,  “Aims to develop a high-efficiency and low-carbon energy storage and power generation (ESPG) system operating on bio-LNG for electric aviation.”  Their stacked SOFCs will be arrayed in electrical and gas flow parallel and series connections.  They claim their system will employ “exceptional high power density direct methane cells made by sputtering thin-film deposition process.”
  • Fuceltech Inc.’s  Extremely Lightweight Fuel Cell Based Power Supply System for Commercial Aircraft, which earns them a $1,656,438 grant employs a “monopolar wound fuel cell potentially as high as 10kW rating and a novel stacking approach to deliver hundreds of kWs of power from a single small and lightweight stack.”  The system will be fueled by ethanol.
  • Precision Combustion, Inc. intends to provide SOFCs for FLIGHT in return for its $1,750,590.  The system includes an “exceptionally power-dense solid oxide fuel cell” powered by “energy-dense carbon neutral liquid fuels.”  “Hybridized system architecture” should provide “ultra-high” system efficiency.

ARPA-E Director Lane Genatowski explains, “Millions of Americans travel on single-aisle aircraft every year, contributing to continued increases in energy use and emissions by commercial airlines.  REEACH and ASCEND teams will work to lower these burdens by creating innovative new systems to enable more cost-effective and efficient flight systems for commercial travel.”

REEACH and ASCEND teams will attempt to reduce passenger-distance-specific CO2 emissions for commercial single-aisle aircraft from “nearly double that of any other individual widely used transportation source, including by rail, bus, or car.”  All of the systems hope to reach that aim through the use of carbon neutral liquid fuels.

{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment