LaunchPoint News

Grant Awarded for High-Power-Density Electric Motor

Posted on Mon, Mar 9, 2009

LaunchPoint Technologies (LaunchPoint) has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to design a high-efficiency, high-power-density, electric motor for hybrid electric air platforms. Led by Senior Systems Engineer, Geoff Long, LaunchPoint will utilize its expertise in complex electro-magnetic systems and custom high-performance motors to investigate the feasibility of a proposed motor design capable of meeting DARPA’s program goals.

Currently, commercial off-the-shelf electric motors are designed for high efficiency, but have power densities on the order of only 0.1 Horse Power per pound (HP/lb). Electric motors developed for use in aircraft propulsion, on the other hand, have power densities between 1 and 2 HP/lb, while direct-drive electric motors can attain power densities greater than 5 HP/lb only through increased operating speeds. The DARPA program goals significantly extend the state of the art in electric motors by seeking the design of a 7 HP, high-efficiency (>95 percent), electric motor with a power density greater than 5 HP/lb at an operating speed below 10,000 RPM.

As our society transitions from petroleum toward electricity-generating energy sources (e.g., wind and photovoltaic solar cells), the need for compact, lightweight, and efficient electric motors will significantly increase. In addition, technology developed for the proposed program could find applications in other areas such as electric cars, magnetic levitation vehicles, flywheel energy-storage devices, and portable consumer electronics.

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