The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has awarded Hinetics a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research Award to develop an advanced electric propulsion motor for hybrid electric regional jets. This builds on work by NASA and the University of Illinois on a megawatt scale, high speed, high frequency, air-cooled electric motor and drive.
In the SBIR Phase I project, Hinetics designed a self cooled, direct-drive electric propulsor based on a concept previously developed for high speed, hybrid-electric aircraft engines. The new motor provides high specific power and high efficiency in a fault tolerant architecture and eliminates the need for auxiliary thermal management systems. The performance of the motor has been verified with detailed computer simulation, confirming high efficiency in a gear-less, direct-drive electric propulsion system. The 24-month, $740K, Phase II project is focused on hardware development. Hinetics will demonstrate a full scale electric drivetrain suitable for hybrid electric regional jets.
“This is a great opportunity for us to commercialize high frequency motors with industry leading power density and efficiency”, says Dr. Kiruba Haran, CTO at Hinetics. “NASA’s investment in electrified propulsion has led to major innovations in electric machines and drives, giving a boost to what has long been considered ‘mature’ technology. In addition to enabling electrification of commercial transport aircraft, we believe these advances can impact other clean energy industries as well.”