Thursday, April 18, 2024

Airbus, CERN to explore superconductivity for future clean aviation

Airbus UpNext, a wholly owned subsidiary of Airbus, and CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, have launched an innovative collaboration to explore the potential use of superconducting technologies for particle accelerators in the electrical distribution systems of future hydrogen-powered aircraft. Superconducting technologies could drastically reduce the weight of next-generation aircraft and increase their efficiency.

The partnership focuses on the development of a Super-Conductor for Aviation with Low Emissions (SCALE) demonstrator that aims to promote the adaptation and adoption of superconducting technologies in airborne electrical distribution systems.

“In its research, CERN pushes back the limits of science and engineering and partners with industry to enable innovation with a positive impact on the environment,” said Raphaël Bello, CERN’s Director of Finance and Human Resources. “Our technologies have the potential to be adapted to the needs of future clean transportation and mobility solutions, as this agreement with Airbus demonstrates. This partnership is only a first step in our journey with the European leader in aviation and shows how much we value the excellence of our Member States’ industry.”

“Our role at Airbus UpNext is to explore the full potential of technologies for future aircraft and to partner with the world’s leaders to prepare for this future. Partnering with a leading research institute like CERN, which has brought the world some of the most important findings in fundamental physics, will help to push the boundaries of research in clean aerospace as we work to make sustainable aviation a reality”, said Sandra Bour-Schaeffer, CEO of Airbus UpNext.

“We are already developing a superconductivity demonstrator called ASCEND (Advanced Superconducting and Cryogenic Experimental powertraiN Demonstrator) to study the feasibility of this technology for electrically powered and hybrid aircraft. Combining knowledge obtained from our demonstrator and CERN’s unique capabilities in the field of superconductors makes for a natural partnership.”

The SCALE demonstrator brings together CERN’s experience in superconducting technologies with Airbus UpNext’s capabilities in innovative aircraft design and manufacturing. If the expected performance and reliability objectives are achieved, the collaboration could reach the ambitious target of flying a fully integrated prototype within the next decade.