A new invention from researchers at MIT could help the aviation industry shrink its carbon footprint immensely. This invention will allow for larger aircraft to benefit from electronic motors. Previously, this was only possible on small electric planes. It’s difficult to build the massive motors required to raise a large aircraft from the ground without overloading the plane.
Now, though, MIT researchers may have finally found a way to, at the least, make a hybrid system that utilizes both an electrical component with a gas turbine aero-engine. The 1-megawatt motor that these MIT researchers are working on could be a very important stepping stone to creating an all-electric aircraft somewhere down the line.
Thus far, the team has both designed and tested the major components of the motor, showing through detailed computations that the components can work as a whole to generate one megawatt of power while still remaining at a weight and size that is competitive with current smaller aero-engines.
The team does believe that the megawatt motor would need to be paired with a source of electricity, such as a battery or fuel cell, allowing it to turn the electrical energy into mechanical work to power the propellers on the aircraft. It could also be combined with an existing turbofan engine in order to form a hybrid propulsion system.
The team consists of GTL faculty and students as well as researchers at the MIT Laboratory Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems. The attempts to create a more environmentally friendly motor have become important, especially as we careen towards what could be the start of devastating climate “doom loops.” Being able to harness electrical power for flight would easily help revolutionize the aviation industry.
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