Roll-Royce has announced its intention to create the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft. At Gloucestershire Airport in England, the company introduced the Roll-Royce ACCEL, a single-seat passenger project aircraft that will break the speed record for electric aircraft next year. It is expected to reach a top speed of more than 480 km/h (over 300 mph) with zero emissions.
For the moment, the record is 209.7 mph (337.5 km/h), owned by an Extra 330, a modified aerobatic aircraft, whose engine has been replaced by a Siemens engine.
According to Rolls-Royce, the electric air racer will use a new electric powertrain, which is tested on Rolls-Royce’s ‘ionBird’ test airframe use to test the electrical propulsion system, before being installed in the final aircraft.
The propeller is driven by three high power density axial electric motors designed by YASA cumulating a power of at least 500 horses. The ACCEL will have the most power-dense rechargeable battery pack, with 6,000 battery cells packaged to minimize weight and maximize thermal protection. It will generate up to 750 kW and provide a range of 200 miles (322 miles) per charge. To reach such velocity, the battery heats up enormously, and their cooling is one of the important points in the design of this aircraft.
Not only does the aircraft have zero emissions, but it also has the propeller blades spin at a far lower RPM to deliver a more stable and far quieter ride. In addition, the power system has 90% energy efficiency compared to the 50% efficiency of the Formula 1 race car.
The new Rolls-Royce electric air racer is being developed as part of the “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight” (ACCEL) initiative and built in partnership with YASA’s electric motor and controller manufacturer and Electroflight startup, with fundings from Aerospace.
If everything goes according to the plan, the aircraft will make its “record” attempt at 300+ miles per hour in the spring of 2020.