Rolls-Royce Electric Aircraft Aims for 300mph

by FliteTest | January 7, 2019 | (2) Posted in News

In 2020, A team led by Rolls-Royce will attempt to smash the current 210mph electric world speed record.

ACCEL, short for “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight”, is a new concept from jet engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce. It aims to set a new precedence in electric aircraft through harnessing power of some of the smartest minds in the industry, such as those behind Formula E (the electric racing series). 

(Credit: Rolls-Royce)

Combining efforts of electric motor and controller manufacturer YASA and aviation start-up Electroflight will allow this project to get off the ground. The collaboration will aim for a 2020 start to test flights from a remote UK beach.

Work to build the plane will be carried out in a single hangar found in a corner of the county of Gloucestershire, England. 

The all-electric aircraft will be “powered by the most powerful battery ever built for flight” according to Matheu Parr, the project lead for this Rolls-Royce mission. This groundbreaking battery will contain 6,000 cells and produce 750kw! As a comparison, our all-electric giant A-10 featured on the Flite Test A-10 vs. Tank episode was powered by 8 cells. 

At the business end of the ACCEL, the nose will contain three power density 750R electric motors geared together. This will result in a power output of around 750 volts with over 90 per cent efficiency. Those are some mighty impressive numbers to take on a lofty target.

The current record is 210 mph which was set by Siemens in 2017. The team behind the ACCEL want to blow this out of the water whilst setting their sites on an even more ambitious goal than the 300mph barrier: The ACCEL aims to surpass the S.6B Supermarine seaplane record of 343mph set in 1931 when it was the fastest airplane in the world.

Surely, if they succeed in their mission, the ACCEL team will notch a new mark into the story of electric aviation and accelerate the world yet closer to a cleaner and more sustainable future of flight.

Article by James Whomsley

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Ran D. St. Clair on January 7, 2019
Volts is a measure of electrical pressure, not power. A different article gives the power of the motor as 500 horse power, or 372,850 Watts. That would be 750 Volts x 497 Amps, or 166 Amps for each of the 3 motors. The battery pack would be something like 200 cells in series. If they were the Tesla 2.7Ah cells and there are 6,000 of them then it is a 200S (Series) 30P (Parallel) battery. At 10A to 15A discharge current they are only 3.7C steady state, and 5.5C burst (short term). For 30P that is 300A to 450A burst. Even 450A x 750V = 337,500W = 453 horsepower, not 500, so they are either using cells with a higher C rating, or pushing the specifications. The the discharge C rating on our modeling cells is often in the 30 to 50 range, but a lot of that is marketing hype. 10C is probably a more practical specification, implying 5 minute flight times with 1 minute of safety margin. By comparison 3.7C to 5.5C is pretty weak, but they expect the cells to last at least 12 years and 3,000 cycles, not the 100 cycles we might expect from our model batteries. Also, large battery packs have a much harder time dissipating their internal heat, and heat kills batteries. Finally, the entire pack is something like 360 megawatt-hours (if my guesses, approximations and calculations are correct).
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Fred2510 on January 10, 2019
Typical Tesla features 8000 ! 6550 Panasonic Lipo cells.
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Rolls-Royce Electric Aircraft Aims for 300mph