Advanced Conductor Technologies LLC, a Boulder-based company that develops superconducting power cables, has received a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy to develop compact superconducting power cables for future use in twin-aisle electric aircraft.
The project will be supported by researchers from Florida State University’s Center for Advanced Power Systems and Los Alamos National Laboratory and is designed to develop power-distribution cables and cable connectors for fully electric aviation applications.
The program will take advantage of ACT’s superconducting Conductor on Round Core cables, designed to be compatible with different coolants such as cryogenic helium gas or liquid hydrogen, a carbon-free fuel being considered for use in future aircraft.
“Our goal is to develop superconducting cables that would ultimately deliver power of up to 50 MW to the electric motors of future aircraft, which is the power required during take-off for large twin-aisle passenger aircraft with 200 – 300 passengers,” Advanced Conductor Technologies’ founder and president, Danko van der Laan, said in a statement. “The liquid hydrogen fuel that’s under consideration for such aircraft would cool the superconducting cable, removing the need for heavy cryocoolers.”
Researchers from Florida State’s CAPS will assist ACT in testing dielectric materials for superconducting cables to reach a desired voltage rating, while Los Alamos will help develop a fault-current limiting aspect of the superconducting cable, which would limit an overcurrent in case of an electrical fault before slower circuit breakers are activated. That ability would add additional safety to the electrical system of the aircraft.
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