Rolls-Royce is set to invest £80 million and create around 300 jobs in the Midlands over the next nine years developing energy storage systems (ESS) for electric aircraft.
The company, which has its civil aerospace division in Derby, is looking to pioneer sustainable power which will enable aircraft to undertake zero emissions flights of over 100 miles on a single charge.
Rob Watson, director of electrical at Rolls-Royce, said: “This multi-million-pound investment by Rolls-Royce over the next decade is another demonstration of our ambitions in electrification.
“It will enable us to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for all-electric or hybrid-electric propulsion systems, which is incredibly exciting as these new markets develop and expand.”
ESS solutions from Rolls-Royce will power electric and hybrid-electric propulsion systems for eVTOLs (electric vertical take-off and landing) in the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market and fixed-wing aircraft, with up to 19 seats, in the commuter market.
Mr Watson said: “We are developing a portfolio of energy storage solutions to complement our electrical propulsion systems.”This will ensure that we can offer our customers a complete electric propulsion system for their platform, whether that is an eVTOL or a commuter aircraft.”
Rolls-Royce has been delivering battery solutions for many years and has designed 10 different aerospace battery systems, using state-of-the-art cell technology.Of these batteries, four designs have already flown in three aircraft, accumulating more than 250 hours of flight experience and another two designs will complete their first flight in aircraft in 2021. This includes a battery developed with Electroflight, Rolls-Royce’s UK manufacturing partner in the flight electrification ACCEL programme, which includes the Spirit of Innovation aircraft that is aiming to be the world’s fastest all-electric plane.
Both ACCEL and the initial research and technology Rolls-Royce has undertaken to develop ESS are being supported by the UK Government through the Aerospace Technology Institute.
A Rolls-Royce spokesman said: “Battery pack design is a mechanical, thermal and containment design challenge and there has to be a strong focus on safety and low weight.
“These aspects are core to all the products that Rolls-Royce has a long history of producing in aerospace. This makes us ideally placed to deliver such industry-leading solutions.”
Rolls-Royce is currently working with Wideroe – the largest regional airline in Scandinavia – to deliver an all-electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market, which is planned to be ready for service in 2026.
Rolls-Royce will deliver the entire electrical propulsion system, including an energy storage system for the new P-VOLT aircraft.
For more information visit: www.rolls-royce.com
EuropeanLife Magazine, 2021