A major goal set by major airlines and aerospace agencies is to reduce the costs associated with space exploration. Today, it is still very expensive to send a rocket into orbit, all the more so than the planet Earth.
Of course, the costs are not just about sending rockets into space and the measure taken in terms of pollution, which worries even the NASA agency. Costs also relate to aviation, environmental, fuel, and commercial air travel represents 4 to 9% of the anthropogenic greenhouse gases. And the percentage is, unfortunately, growing.
For this reason, NASA has partnered with the commercial industry to work together on the development of electric aircraft. They hope to be a more cost-effective alternative to fuel consumption by 2035.
This project represents a great challenge for all companies, because the functional electrical components are, first and foremost, very heavy. In particular, NASA’s Advanced Vehicle Program (AAVP) is looking for lightweight, compact inverters – a central component of an electrical system that provides power to drive the electric motor.
Inverters are essential for electronic propulsion systems, as they transform AC (AC) – generated by motor-mounted generators and propeller-driven electric motors – to high-voltage DC (DC) power. Unfortunately, the components needed to generate that amount of energy – generators, power conversion electronics, motors, etc. – they were historically too big and heavy to fit in an aircraft.
For these reasons, NASA is working on creating lighter and smaller electrical components. To that end, they recently signed a $ 12 million contract with General Electric (GE), one of the world leaders in the development of advanced silicon carbide (SiC) technology.
Therefore, between the threat of climate change and population growth to 10 billion by 2050, it is absolutely clear that new alternatives for manufacturing, transport, production and energy are needed. Thus, we can expect electric and hybrid aircraft in the next decades.