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Ravi Rajamani
The environmental impact of hydrocarbon-burning aircraft is one of the main motivations for the move to electric propulsion in aerospace. Also, cars, buses, and trucks are incorporating electric or hybrid-electric propulsion systems, reducing the pressure on hydrocarbons and lowering the costs of electrical components. The economies of scale necessitated by the automotive industry will help contain costs in the aviation sector as well. The use of electric propulsion in airplanes is not a new phenomenon. However, it is only recently that it has taken off in a concrete manner with a viable commercial future. The Electric Flight Technology: Unfolding of a New Future reviews the history of this field, discusses the key underlying technologies, and describes how the future for these technologies will likely unfold, distinguishing between all-electric (AE) and hybrid-electric (HE) architectures. Written by Dr.
Michael Waller
Larger airframes drove the development of electrical systems, capable of quickly and reliably starting the new higher power engines. These soon gave rise to the need for engine-mounted electrical generators as the primary source of in-flight power for the electrical loads and onboard recharging of the aircraft battery system. Of all the backup power sources, batteries represent the most common means of storing energy for auxiliary or emergency power requirements. It is not unusual for a typical commercial airliner, such as a B-737 or A-320, to have dozens of batteries on board. Over time, multiple battery chemistries were put to the test and the industry is still working on the optimal option. The lithium-ion technology has been gaining acceptance, with some important aspects to be considered: the application type, basic safety requirements and the presence or absence of humans on the vehicle.
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