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- The Subsonic Fixed Wing Project of NASA's Fundamental Aeronautics Program is researching aircraft propulsion technologies that will lower noise, emissions, and fuel burn. One promising technology is noncryogenic electric propulsion, which could be either hybrid electric propulsion or turboelectric propulsion. Reducing dependence on the turbine engine would certainly reduce emissions. However, the weight of the electricmotor- related components that would have to be added would adversely impact the benefits of the smaller turbine engine. Therefore, research needs to be done to improve component efficiencies and reduce component weights. This study projects technology improvements expected in the next 15 and 30 years, including motor-related technologies, power electronics, and energy-storage-related technologies. Motor efficiency and power density could be increased through the use of better conductors, insulators, magnets, bearings, structural materials, and thermal management. Energy storage could be accomplished through batteries, flywheels, or supercapacitors, all of which expect significant energy density growth over the next few decades. A first-order approximation of the cumulative effect of each technology improvement shows that motor power density could be improved from 3 hp/lb, the state of the art, to 8 hp/lb in 15 years and 16 hp/lb in 30 years.
- Document ID: 20150000747.
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