Photo: Wright Electric
Conducted at 1,000 volts, this test sets the stage for simulated altitude testing at the NASA NEAT facility later this year.
Wright Electric Inc., a developer of advanced motor, generator and inverter technologies, has successfully tested its motor in the Wright Lab at a simulated atmosphere equivalent to 43,000 feet of altitude without Potential Discharge (PD). Conducted at 1,000 volts, this test sets the stage for simulated altitude testing at the NASA NEAT facility later this year.
PD-free performance is crucial to operating electric motors on aircraft. When electric motors run at high voltages, the insulation surrounding the conductive components is subjected to electric stress. Over time, this stress may weaken the insulation, leading to PD. PD can further accelerate the degradation of insulation, potentially causing motor failure, among other safety concerns. As altitude increases, the voltage level needed to cause PD decreases. Because of this, PD is not really an issue for many electric aircraft under development, such as air taxis, which cruise around 3,000 feet where typical insulation is sufficient. Wright Electric is developing motors and inverters for commercial aircraft that typically cruise at 36,000 feet, making air taxi solutions impractical.
Achieving zero PD at this altitude is a significant step forward in realizing Wright's goal of zero emissions on flights shorter than 800 miles. Jeff Engler, Founder and CEO of Wright Electric, explains; "45% of all aviation emissions are from single-aisle flights. By proving those flights can be flown without potential discharge, we are one step closer to eliminating this massive form of pollution." Wright has worked on development programs with NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense in its motor and generator development efforts.
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