American startup Wright Electric has begun testing its 2 MW (2,700 horsepower) electric motor that could someday power large-scale electric passenger planes.
Considered to be the largest propulsive aerospace motor in existence according to Wright’s knowledge – this super-large aviation-grade electric motor will be a key building block towards zero emissions aviation for both Boeing and Airbus sized planes.
According to Wright CEO Jeff Engler, the motor was built based on expert suggestions from NASA, the US Department of Energy (DOE), the US Air Force, and the US Army.
Wright’s motor can work in 150+ passenger aircraft in a 10-motor-array format, and it can also be used in smaller 50-passenger turboprop aircraft in a two-motor-array format.
At present, the motor is being designed to be scalable from 500 kw to 4 MW systems.
Boeing and Airbus sized planes account for more than 90% of the carbon footprint of aerospace, reports management consulting company Roland Berger.
This has brought the aerospace industry’s decarbonization efforts into the limelight, and low or zero emissions commercial aircraft aptly fits that bill.
Nevertheless, scaling electric and hybrid-electric propulsion systems from general aviation to larger aircraft applications requires much more powerful and lighter weight altitude-capable e-motor technology.
And this is what Wright Electric is striving to do, says Engler. The purpose of Wright’s motor is to convert the DC power from batteries or fuel cells into propulsive thrust that is compatible with industry standard ducted fan and propeller systems for commercial aircraft.
Engler points out that the level of power and weight demonstrated with their new 2 MW motor will become the baseline for any new electric aircraft and is a key technology in Wright’s megawatt system.
According to Engler, Wright will make use of 10 2MW motors on its Wright 1 aircraft that will make it as powerful as an A320 Airbus aircraft that major airlines operate today.
Likewise, a two-motor system could power a 50-seat aircraft such as the ATR-42.
On an A320-sized plane, Wright’s motors will enable 10 more passengers per flight than a plane using other industry motors.
Image and content: Wright Electric via Medium