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Wright selected for ARPA-E electric aircraft program

Wright Electric announced that the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has selected Wright for a contract to support the development of innovative, lightweight, and ultra-efficient electric propulsion motors, drives, and associated thermal management systems for commercial electric aircraft.

The foundation of Wright’s Wright 1 zero-emissions 186-seat aircraft is its high-efficiency electric propulsion system. As part of the ARPA-E program, Wright will design propulsion systems that use cutting-edge innovations in integrated cooling, power electronics, and structural design. This system has the potential to enable power densities beyond 12 kW/kg. Today, aircraft that use jet fuel-burning turbine engines achieve approximately 6-9 kW/kg.

Wright’s novel design will use existing manufacturing techniques to create a high-efficiency, high-performance motor without sacrificing safety. This will be delivered by a permanent magnet motor coupled with an aggressive cooling strategy and a high-frequency inverter.

In phase one of the ARPA-E program, the team will create a detailed design and subcomponent testing of this system. In phase two, it will build and demonstrate this system.

The innovations across the electric propulsion system will aid the development of aircraft flying entirely on electric power. Single-aisle and twin-aisle aircraft that carry 100 or more passengers account for more than 90% of global emissions from commercial aircraft.

Wright received its award from ARPA-E’s Aviation-class Synergistically Cooled Electric-motors with iNtegrated Drives (ASCEND) program. This announcement is for Phase 1 of the program, which is $647,039.


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