Professor Kiruba Haran was one of four researchers, selected nationwide, to be awarded a 2015 Leading Edge Aeronautics Research for NASA (LEARN) award for his proposal “Concept for Order-of-Magnitude Increase in Electrical Machine Power Density.” The U of I team is partnering with Ohio State University and the Air Force Research Laboratory. At Illinois, Professor Haran is collaborating with Professor Andrew Alleyne’s group in the ME department. They will share $705,433.
This project is synergistic with the NASA Fixed Wing project (described in the 2013-2014 Grainger CEME Annual Report) on non-cryogenic motors for electric propulsion. That program is developing several enabling technologies for high power density machines which, when combined with the proposed superconducting field assembly, can increase machine power densities to beyond 40 kW/kg.
If the projected increase in power density is realized, it will enable electric drives for several applications in NASA, including distributed/hybrid electric propulsion for ultra-efficient commercial vehicles, and, when lightweight energy storage is available, facilitate the transition to low-carbon propulsion by using stored energy from renewable sources on the ground. It can also help increase the power density and efficiency of actuators enabling more sophisticated unmanned aircraft systems with smarter, more electric systems. And there is potential to apply the technology to other areas requiring high power density machines like offshore wind, ship propulsion, etc.
Work started on March 1st. Already, Kiruba’s student David Loder, (see his research summary on superconducting machines under “Motor Design, Operation and Control”) is using a genetic-algorithm-based optimization scheme to generate optimal coil designs.