Researchers at MIT have made a groundbreaking invention that could revolutionize the aviation industry and significantly reduce its carbon footprint. This innovation enables larger aircraft to fully harness the power of electric motors, a feat previously limited to smaller all-electric planes. The challenge lies in creating megawatt motors capable of lifting larger aircraft without overburdening them.
Fortunately, MIT researchers may have discovered a solution: a hybrid system that combines an electric component with a gas turbine aero-engine. This pioneering approach paves the way for a 1-megawatt motor, which holds immense potential in advancing the development of all-electric aircraft in the future. With this breakthrough, MIT is charting a crucial path toward a more sustainable and eco-friendly aviation industry.
The research team has made significant progress by designing and testing the major components of the one-megawatt motor. Detailed computations have demonstrated that these components can function cohesively, generating the desired power while maintaining a competitive weight and size comparable to current smaller aero-engines.
For the megawatt motor to operate effectively, the team suggests pairing it with an electricity source, such as a battery or fuel cell. This would enable the conversion of electrical energy into mechanical work to drive the aircraft’s propellers. Moreover, the motor could be combined with a traditional turbofan jet engine, resulting in a hybrid system that utilizes electric propulsion during specific phases of flight.
The collaborative team comprises faculty, students, and researchers from GTL (Gas Turbine Laboratory) and the MIT Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems. The pursuit of a more environmentally friendly motor has gained significant importance, particularly as we approach potential climate “doom loops” with potentially catastrophic consequences. The ability to harness electric power for aviation has the potential to revolutionize the industry and contribute to a more sustainable future.