June 28, 2015 to July 2, 2015
JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort
Etc/GMT-7 timezone

Cryogenic system options for a superconducting aircraft propulsion system

Jun 30, 2015, 4:00 PM
Tucson Ballroom IJ

Tucson Ballroom IJ

Contributed Oral Presentation CEC-09 - Cryogenics for Power Applications, Energy, Fuels and Transportation C2OrH - Cryogenics for Power Applications, Energy, Fuels and Transformation II


Frederick Berg (Airbus Group)


Environmental and economic pressures lead to a need, in the aerospace industry, to develop ever more efficient passenger aircraft. Further progress in this regard may necessitate a move away from the conventional configurations seen today toward more radical designs. Aircraft with distributed propulsion may lead to fuel savings by allowing the exploitation of aerodynamic improvements. However, the transfer of propulsive power in the order of MW and 10s of MW poses significant challenges. A fully superconducting electrical system, from generators through distribution to fan motors, may be light and efficient enough to allow such a system to be economical in the future, but the provision of cryogenic temperatures in an aircraft is expected to be the greatest hurdle to its successful implementation. Losses at cryogenic temperatures in the order of kW must be expected. A consortium consisting of Airbus Group Innovations, Rolls-Royce and Cranfield University are involved in the Distributed Electrical Aerospace Propulsion (DEAP) project. The use of a superconducting power architecture aboard a distributed propulsion aircraft is considered, to study the possible benefits and drawbacks such a system could bring about at an aircraft level. The inevitable increase in system weight and the cryogenic system’s power consumption must not be so high as to offset the aerodynamic and propulsive gains of the new aircraft configuration. This paper will examine the cryocooling system choices that were considered in the DEAP project. Both a system with cryocoolers and a liquid methane heat sink, as well as a liquid hydrogen system will be compared and the advantages and challenges to their use in passenger aircraft will be discussed. The impact of the system’s efficiency and mass on the aircraft’s viability will be detailed. Technology targets for the successful implementation of superconducting aircraft will be presented to the community.

Primary author

Frederick Berg (Airbus Group)


Mr Graham Dodds (Airbus Group) Mr Joseph Palmer (Cranfield University) Mr Paul Miller (Rolls-Royce plc.)

Presentation materials