Rolls-Royce Eyes Electric Speed Record

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Rolls-Royce is heading up the development of an aircraft that it says will set speed records for electric aircraft and further advance emission-free flight. The “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight” project (ACCEL) is taking shape in southern England and that shape looks a lot like the Nemesis NXT Relentless racing plane. Rolls-Royce is planning to exceed 300 MPH in the sleek low-wing to easily surpass Siemens existing record of 210 MPH. The flight is planned for 2020.

While the record is the nominal goal of the flight, there are some important technology advancements that are taking place in support of the speed project. Rolls-Royce says the aircraft will have the most energy-dense battery pack designed for an aircraft that will give the engine a 1,000 horsepower maximum output and a range of about 200 miles. It’s made up of 6,000 cells. The similarity to Relentless is driven by the same design factors that faced Kevin Eldredge in building a racing plane with a big heavy engine in a lightweight airframe. Although the batteries are as light as possible, they still weigh a lot and the weight and balance considerations dictate the long nose with a cockpit toward the aft. The British government is kicking in funding and U.K. firms YASA and Electroflight are also involved in the project.

Comments (3)

Ok let's set the record straight, the airplane is not emission free flight. There are emissions from the generation of the electricity to charge the batteries. The only truly emission free flight is with foot launched gliders. It is great to see the electric technology developing but the green propaganda is maddening. Electric airplanes just shift the emissions. Since we live in a big beautiful world, we must take a systems approach to emissions and not pretend that they don't exist just because there is internal (or external) combustion engine.

Posted by: Leo LeBoeuf | January 5, 2019 9:45 PM    Report this comment

Leo said "The only truly emission free flight is with foot launched gliders."

Humans expel carbon in the form of CO2 as they breathe. The total CO2 foot print for the human, from birth to readiness to take flight, is huge. So that foot launched glider has a terrible CO2 footprint. Is that what you meant by "systems approach"?

Meanwhile, electricity to charge the airplane's batteries can come from sources that generate no CO2 as they operate, such as solar cells, wind turbines, hydro, nuclear. Obviously some CO2 was generated building those systems, so there's some amortized CO2 footprint, but each KWH itself isn't any CO2 directly.

Unlike hydrocarbon fuels, electricity CAN come from sources that do not generate carbon during use.

Mike C.

Posted by: MIKE CIHOLAS | January 6, 2019 12:24 PM    Report this comment

@Leo LeBoeuf
Dunno where you live but we can choose our source of energy. 100% renewable if you want.

Posted by: Jan Detlefsen | January 8, 2019 1:06 PM    Report this comment

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