“Green” aviation: the new invention of MAI scientists will allow to build quiet and eco-friendly aircraft
Experts of Moscow Aviation Institute created and tested a unique small-scale demonstrator of a superconducting system. Such systems are needed to create zero-emission aircraft for more than 70 passengers. The invetion will make it possible to build aircraft with reduced fuel consumption and, accordingly, reduced impact on the atmosphere.
The demonstrator is a 540 V DC generation channel and the system consists of five devices: a superconducting generator, a superconducting cable, a rectifier device, an energy storage device and a cryogenic cooling system. All these are developments of various departments of Moscow Aviation Institute.
There are no such systems in the world yet. Ascend (Airbus), might be considered as a competitor. According to the developers, the first tests of this system should begin in 2023. We can say that we are slightly ahead of our European colleagues," says Nikolay Ivanov, head of the MAI NIO-310 "Electric Power, Electromechanical and Biotechnical Systems".
Another peculiarity of the system is also that each of the five mentioned devices is unique. For example, a rectifier device has cryogenic cooling: only a few scientific groups are engaged in the study of such devices worldwide. The superconducting cable has a unique design that is designed to improve its performance. The closed-type cryogenic cooling system allows continuous long-term cooling of devices. The generator has a superconducting armature winding, which has become the subject of research - for example, there is still no established theory and methodology for calculating the losses in it.
The developed prototype of a superconducting system is an element of the power supply system, or electric propulsion of future aircraft. Its location will significantly depend on the layout of the device, on the transmitted power, temperature level and other parameters. At the same time, the reduction of harmful emissions will be realized primarily by reducing fuel consumption by gas turbine engine and optimal power distribution between thermal and electrical energy.
The scientist says that by the moment the demonstrator has already passed all the planned tests. The experimental data obtained will further increase the reliability and efficiency of superconducting systems, since even any trifle – be it a surge of current, temperature fluctuations, excessive vibrations- might lead to abnormal situation during the operation of a superconducting system.
The next global step is the transition to trial operation. MAI scientists primarily look towards aviation systems. The research institutes might be the potential customers of the next stage of work.
We set ourselves the task of putting such systems into trial operation. This is a difficult task. And first of all, it is connected with the definition of the laws of mutual influence of devices in the system. In addition, it is very important to develop methods of predictive analysis (monitoring of the state) of superconducting devices, – says Nikolay Ivanov.
The project was launched in 2020, it became one of the winners of the competition of the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia for grants in the form of subsidies for major scientific projects in priority areas of scientific and technological development. The team of scientists is about 150 people. These are experienced experts, doctors and candidates of sciences, young scientists, graduate students and students. Experts of the Institute of Thermophysics SB RAS are also involved in the work, carrying out research in the field of creating highly efficient and practical methods for intensifying heat transfer and increasing the maximum heat fluxes during boiling and free convection in cryogenic refrigerant, in developing modern methods of thermal stabilization of energy systems based on the effect of superconductivity using HTSP elements, as well as research of a complex of thermophysical properties of superconducting tapes, electrical insulating materials and new generation of heat carriers.
In the course of the project, more than 20 scientific articles were published in foreign and Russian journals, and more than 15 results of intellectual activity were registered. The project was carried out in close cooperation with industry institutes such as TsAGI, CIAM, GOSNIIAS. In addition, a constant dialogue on the prospects for the development and implementation of hybrid power plants is conducted with the UEC.