EV Engineering News

MIT builds megawatt electric motor to help electrify aviation

MIT engineers are building a 1-megawatt (MW) motor to help facilitate the electrification of larger aircraft.

The team has designed and tested the motor’s primary components and proved that the connected components can generate 1 MW of power at a weight and size comparable to current compact aircraft engines. The team anticipates a battery or fuel cell powering the motor, which could be combined with a turbofan jet engine for hybrid propulsion. The electric motor and power components are the size of a piece of checked luggage, weighing less than an adult passenger. The MIT engineers hope to build and test the first completely functional electric motor in the fall.

The motor has a high-speed rotor lined with an array of magnets with varying polarity; a compact low-loss stator that fits inside the rotor and contains an array of copper windings; a heat exchanger that cools the components while transmitting torque; and a distributed power electronics system, made from 30 custom-built circuit boards, which changes the currents running through each of the stator’s copper windings.

“We have come up with a compact, lightweight and powerful architecture,” says Zoltan Spakovszky, the Director of the Gas Turbine Laboratory (GTL) at MIT, who leads the project. “This is a high-speed machine and to keep it rotating while creating torque, the magnetic fields have to be traveling very quickly, which we can do through our circuit boards switching at high frequency.”

Source: MIT News

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