A new integrated plug-and-play electric motor, battery and power electronics system will be designed and retrofitted into an existing gasoline-powered Air Race 1 plane in workshops at the University. The prototype race airplane will help shape the model and rules for Air Race E, which is set to launch its inaugural race in 2020.
The University is investing £13 million (US$17 million) in the Beacons of Excellence program which is aimed at championing field-leading responses to global challenges, including sustainable travel.
With transport on the vanguard of a green revolution the two parties will drive the discovery and translation of new materials, components and technologies in order to change the game within electrified propulsion.
Air Race E will see electric airplanes racing directly against each other on a very tight circuit just above the ground and at speeds faster than any land-based motorsport. Formula Air Race planes, classified as “experimental”, are the only airplanes in the world designed specifically for racing and built to a specific race formula.
The demand for speed, performance and power management under the rigors of a competitive race environment provide suitable conditions for the development and promotion of cleaner, faster and more technologically advanced electric motors. Electric aviation is one of the fastest developing technological areas and is seen as the third generation of aviation.
Air Race E will be a similar format to the sport known as formula one pylon air racing in which race pilots compete simultaneously to be the first one to cross the finish line. Eight airplanes race directly against each other at speeds of over 400 km/h around a tight circuit just 1.5 km end-to-end.