EFATS2023 will be held on 4 & 5 October 2023 in Bristol, UK. It is the 3rd international workshop on hydrogen-fueled superconducting electric powertrains for longer-range or heavier aircraft.
Current plans for electrifying aviation will deliver solutions for shorter-range or smaller-capacity aircraft, at stretch targets of 2,000 nm and 200 passengers. However, a significant proportion of modern air transport relies on aircraft carrying 200-500 passengers over intercontinental ranges. Battery or hydrogen-fueled electrical powertrains currently being researched or tested will struggle to deliver the power density to achieve these requirements.
Superconducting power distribution systems have been considered for years, but the growth of interest in hydrogen fuel and current research into superconducting motors opens up synergies between these three ideas, specifically the simultaneous use of a cryogenic cooling system required by both the hydrogen fuel system and the superconducting powertrain. This combined system offers a significant improvement in whole system power density – perhaps enough to electrify larger aircraft.
These ideas are not pipe dreams. There is a market need, and work is being done to fill it. Roland Berger foresees a need for superconducting systems to fill the high-end gap of the aircraft market—perhaps as much as 20%. ZeroAvia sees a requirement for this sort of system for its future, larger designs. Both GKN Aerospace and Airbus UpNext are building their own ground-based demonstrators to prove the concept. These are both due to be operational within 3 years. If successful, plans show on-aircraft demonstrators in a few years. Dr. Shirley Pei at the University of Bath launched a pre-cursor event with the UK Magnetics Society in June 2020 to look at the idea of electrifying larger aircraft. Following this, she was a part of a group supported by Macresco Ltd which designed the EFATS workshops to provide a platform to share relevant work and ideas. The aim of the workshops is to bring together all aspects of the system—cryogenics, hydrogen, superconducting cabling and motors, aircraft design, etc.—with the researchers, suppliers, manufacturers, operators, OEMs, regulators, and infrastructure owners to identify the science, engineering, and commercial issues, challenges, opportunities, and solutions.
The first workshop took place online in 2021, while Prof Min Zhang and Prof Weijia Yuan at the University of Strathclyde chaired the first in-person workshop in 2022 in Glasgow, UK, sponsored by Stirling Cryogenics. 80 delegates heard detailed technical presentations from ZeroAvia, GKN Aerospace, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Airbus UpNext, University of Bath, H2Gen, Georgia Institute of Technology, US Air Force, FAMU-FSU, Fujikura, Absolut Systems, HyperTech, and others.
Dr. Pei and Dr. Mike Hales of GKN Aerospace will chair the third workshop on 4-5 October 2023, in Bristol, UK. The programme will include some invited speakers, along with significant discussion and networking opportunities. Anyone interested is invited to apply to present on any subject relevant to the workshop, including but not limited to cryogenics, hydrogen supply, and systems, superconducting cabling and motors, aircraft design, and relevant infrastructure.
Anyone interested in the future of electric aircraft should attend the next workshop, which will include visits to the GKN Aerospace Technical Centre, GKN Aerospace’s facilities at IAAPS, and Bath University’s superconductivity laboratories, as well as detailed presentations and discussions.
For more information on EFATS2022, see efats.info.
Early registration for EFATS2023 will open in March 2023. In the meantime, please email (Click to show email) to register your interest, using EFATS in the email subject line.