Electrical “genius” at EADS Innovation Works is applied to a pioneering testbed aircraft

15 September 2012

EADS Innovation Works is contributing its expertise in electrical and hybrid propulsion systems to the e-Genius aircraft, which is being exhibited by its developer – the University of Stuttgart – during the ILA Berlin Air Show.

The electrically-powered two-seat e-Genius aircraft is being utilised to examine the long-term potential of electricity as a major onboard energy source for commercial aviation applications.

EADS Innovation Works’ e-Genius program activity is focused on performance investigations of the aircraft’s high-energy lithium-ion batteries, along with evaluations of advanced lithium-sulfur batteries for use in a potential next-generation power system.

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The electrically-powered e-Genius is exhibited on the ILA Berlin Air Show static display line along with Airbus aircraft, including the A320.

The technical support for e-Genius is using EADS Innovation Works’ laboratory test rig in Ottobrunn, Germany, and builds on expertise that also includes its development of an ultra-light Cri-Cri modified as the world’s first four-engine all-electric aerobatic aircraft, and flight testing of a short-range mini-unmanned aerial vehicle with an advanced fuel cell in cooperation with EADS’ Cassidian division. 

e-Genius is designed specifically for fully electric flight, and performed the maiden flight in May 2011. It is powered by a permanent magnet synchronous motor with an electrically-driven variable pitch propeller. Weighing just 27 kg., this tail-mounted electric motor was designed and manufactured especially for the e-Genius, and has a maximum continuous power of approximately 30 kW and a peak performance up to 72 kW. Four lithium-Ion battery packs are integrated in the fuselage directly behind the pilots – near the centre of gravity – providing a total capacity of an estimated 56 kWh.

EADS Innovation Works also is collaborating with the Institute of Aircraft Design at the University of Stuttgart on a conceptual design of a mechanical/electrical hybridization of the e-Genius for a flight range extension. This involves work on the power-train architecture, the integration of a 30 kW heavy fuel (diesel/kerosene) rotary piston engine with a 30 kW electric generator, and a new battery set comprising high-power lithium-ion batteries.

High-level sponsorship for the overall e-Genius program project also comes from the EADS group – through Airbus, in the framework of the aircraft manufacturer’s overall engagement to reduce emissions and develop a greener aviation industry. Airbus is examining the long-term potential of electricity as alternative major onboard energy source, and the data collected from operation of the e-Genius aircraft will be analysed by Airbus’ Future Projects teams to further develop the technology and better understand its opportunities.