When we speak about the fields that allow for the automobile fuel efficiency, we generally mention aerodynamics, weight and powertrain. And electric powertrains seem to have no room for improvement, since they are already much more efficient than internal combustion engines. But this is not right, as Siemens engineers have demonstrated when they announced the creation of an electric engine, now exclusive for aircrafts, that is five times more powerful than a regular electric engine. It weighs only 50 kg, but delivers 260 kW! It is like having half a 1.0 three cylinder engine with no turbocharger producing the same power provided to an Audi S4 by its 3.0 V6 turbo petrol engine. Not bad, right?
This achievement was possible due to many changes. The first one was the use of a cobalt-iron alloy in the stator. That allowed a high magnetizability. The engine is also cooled by an electrically non-conductive cooling liquid (silicon oil or Galden), containing losses. Last, but not least, its rotor’s permanent magnets follow a Halbach array. In other words, you have to use less magnets in order to produce an optimal magnetic flux, hence the low weight of the new engine.
Used alone, it is able to power a two ton aircraft that can carry up to 100 passengers. It can also be used with a turbine, in a hybrid arrangement that would make fuel consumption 25% more efficient. Operational costs would fall down by 12%, according to Dr. Frank Anton, head of the electric aircraft team at Siemens.
The German company is already working with Airbus in order to develop an airplane with this engine. If everything runs as planned, this new hybrid aircraft will be ready to fly by 2035. There is no word on whether this engine could be adapted for use in cars, but we do not believe there is any sort of technical problem in order to get it done.
Source: Interesting Engineering