Aircraft

Siemens' world-record electric aircraft motor punches above its weight

Siemens' world-record electric...
Researchers working at Siemens say that they have produced an electric aircraft engine with a claimed weight-to-performance ratio of 5 kW per kilogram (Photo: Siemens)
Researchers working at Siemens say that they have produced an electric aircraft engine with a claimed weight-to-performance ratio of 5 kW per kilogram (Photo: Siemens)
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Siemens hopes to see further evolutionary increases to the power output of their new electric motor in the not-too-distant future (Photo: Siemens)
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Siemens hopes to see further evolutionary increases to the power output of their new electric motor in the not-too-distant future (Photo: Siemens)
Researchers also utilized a range of computer simulation methods to model the motor prior to construction (Photo: Siemens)
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Researchers also utilized a range of computer simulation methods to model the motor prior to construction (Photo: Siemens)
Weighing in at just 50 kilograms (110 lb), a new prototype electric motor specifically designed for aircraft has been created that produces a claimed 260 kW (348 hp) (Photo: Siemens)
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Weighing in at just 50 kilograms (110 lb), a new prototype electric motor specifically designed for aircraft has been created that produces a claimed 260 kW (348 hp) (Photo: Siemens)
The motor is planned to start in-flight-testing before the end of 2015 (Photo: Siemens)
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The motor is planned to start in-flight-testing before the end of 2015 (Photo: Siemens)
The motor was developed with the support of the German Aviation Research Program LuFo as a project of Grob Aircraft and Siemens (Photo: Siemens)
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The motor was developed with the support of the German Aviation Research Program LuFo as a project of Grob Aircraft and Siemens (Photo: Siemens)
Researchers working at Siemens say that they have produced an electric aircraft engine with a claimed weight-to-performance ratio of 5 kW per kilogram (Photo: Siemens)
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Researchers working at Siemens say that they have produced an electric aircraft engine with a claimed weight-to-performance ratio of 5 kW per kilogram (Photo: Siemens)
The new prototype electric aircraft motor on its static test rig (Photo: Siemens)
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The new prototype electric aircraft motor on its static test rig (Photo: Siemens)

Researchers at Siemens have created a new prototype electric motor specifically designed for aircraft that weighs in at just 50 kg (110 lb) and is claimed to produce about 260 kW (348 hp) at just 2,500 RPM. With a quoted power five times greater than any comparable powerplant, the new motor promises enough grunt to get aircraft with take-off weights of up to 1,800 kg (2 ton) off the ground.

Researchers say they produced such a light but powerful motor by analyzing all of the components of previous electric aircraft motors and incorporating optimized improvements to these in their new prototype. Added to this, the researchers also utilized a range of computer simulation methods to model the motor prior to construction, before then applying the findings to produce the lightest and strongest set of components possible.

As a result, the new aircraft electric drive system achieves a claimed weight-to-performance ratio of 5 kW per kilogram. This ratio is an exceptional figure – especially if compared to similarly powerful industrial electric motors used in heavy machinery that produce less than 1 kW per kilogram, or even to more efficient electric motors for vehicles that generate around 2 kW per kilogram. The four electric motors in the Solar Impulse 2, by comparison, produce just 7.5 kW (10 hp) each.

The new Siemens electric motor is also direct drive and does not require a transmission, spinning a propeller up to speeds of around 2,500 RPM.

The new prototype electric aircraft motor on its static test rig (Photo: Siemens)
The new prototype electric aircraft motor on its static test rig (Photo: Siemens)

"This innovation will make it possible to build series hybrid-electric aircraft with four or more seats," said Frank Anton, Head of eAircraft at Siemens Corporate Technology, the company's central research unit. "We're convinced that the use of hybrid-electric drives in regional airliners with 50 to 100 passengers is a real medium-term possibility."

Siemens has been involved in a range of electric motor driven vehicles, including a collaboration with Volvo on a fast-charging motor vehicle and with shipping company Norland for an electrically-driven passenger ferry.

This electric motor innovation, however, may be just the ticket for the company's joint venture with the Diamond aircraft company, who they supply with electric fan motors for their DA36 E-Star 2 motor glider. The last one generated just 60 kW.

The motor, which was developed with the support of the German Aviation Research Program LuFo as a project of Grob Aircraft and Siemens, is planned to start in-flight-testing before the end of 2015. Siemens also hopes to see further evolutionary increases to the power output in the not-too-distant future.

Source: Siemens

30 comments
Towerman
The revolution has begun :D
Mzungu_Mkubwa
Surely this tech would allow the scaling of R/C multicopter drone designs to be able to carry people? Next they need to apply the same weight savings innovations to a generator (should be a short leap, right?) so that there can be a single central power unit (micro turbine?) for multiple remote engines. Preferably in a configuration similar to this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOJ8TWYUedA
Larry English
for once - this thing looks pretty good unlike bikes that hang you from a hammock, or doohickeys that re-invent old problems wle
Jay Finke
looks like it's water cooled, so much for the 150lbs ?
bryan.burdett@gmail.com
This has great potential if the load carrying can be scaled up and the electric power boosted with wing mounted solar panels to achieve higher speeds above the clouds.
the.other.will
At 260 kw, there's no need to talk about scaling up multi-rotor drones, there's enough to power existing small helicopters like the MD 500. Although the motor only weighs 50 kg, the aircraft will also need a fuel-burning powerplant of some sort.
The Bishop of D
Siemens may be killing two birds with one stone. A light yet powerful electric motor is far more important to the hybrid/electric car industry than to the aircraft industry,
grtbluyonder
What about the batteries, their energy capacity and their weight. How do these compare to avgas or diesel engines. So far batteries are a poor excuse for the energy density needs of transportation in cold climates.
Andrej Radoš
At Hobby-King: Turnigy RotoMax 150cc equivalent, at 2,5 kg, and 450$ almost 4kW per kilo. So do you get one of these Siemens for less than 12000$. .? Batteries and/or solar-cells weigh much more than the motor.
cucotx
I want this for use in Powered Parachuting. No more noisy gas engines. And how about this technology incorporated into a hybrid Jeep Wrangler. Electric motors providing the Jeep with maximum torque at 0 rpm. Sign me up.