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Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program

Center for High-Efficiency Electrical Technologies for Aircraft (CHEETA)

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

Study Components

The aeronautics industry has been challenged on many fronts to increase efficiency, reduce emissions, and decrease dependency on carbon-based fuels.  With subsonic transports serving as the dominant contributor to the fuel consumption and carbon footprint of global aviation, the need for environmentally-responsible transportation has been met with a boom of research in the field of aircraft propulsion electrification across industry, government, and academic organizations.  However, adoption of electrified propulsion systems for large commercial aircraft today is unattainable, due to the lack of motors and power electronics appropriately sized for these vehicles, high weight requirements of conventional electrical energy storage systems, and new principles required to design these classes of aircraft.

The mission of the Center for High-Efficiency Electrical Technologies for Aircraft (CHEETA) program is to develop, mature, and design disruptive technologies for electric commercial aviation.  The associated technologies being researched include distributed aero-propulsion system integration, high-efficiency electrochemical power conversion, flight-weight electric machines and power electronics, materials and systems for superconducting high-efficiency power transmission, and methods for complex system integration and optimization.  Additionally, the current program is investigating the use of unconventional energy storage and power generation architectures, such as liquid hydrogen fuel and high-efficiency fuel cell systems.

The research program provides a direct line-of-sight to not only achieving, but potentially even exceeding the aviation community goals for transition to alternative propulsion and energy through convergence of various novel technologies.  The end result of maturation and integration of these technologies is an aircraft system with a quiet, efficient propulsion system that produces zero carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter emissions at the vehicle level.

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Anticipated Benefits

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Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

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