The ‘Spirit of Innovation’ officially became the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft in January this year, when speeds of 387.4mph reached during test flights in November 2021 were officially verified by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale – breaking three separate world speed records.
This achievement was the result of a long-term partnership between Rolls-Royce, YASA and Electroflight – a British aviation energy storage specialist and Amorim Cork Composites to develop a highly fire-proof light-weight material for the battery casing using a cork lining. This unique material, now patented, has the added benefit of being made from natural sustainable materials – a vital consideration given the overall objective of the ACCEL project: to accelerate aviation on the path to decarbonisation.
To see a film of Spirit of Innovation in flight see: https://youtu.be/kd-RDX1IjuM
Electroflight designed the entire powertrain and integrated battery system for the Spirit of Innovation, using three YASA 750 R axial-flux electric motors and more than 6,000 Murata VTC6 18650 NCA cylindrical cells. They needed to find a material for the battery case that would not only be structurally robust, but would also be light and extremely fire resistant.
Douglas Campbell, Technical Director for Electroflight, explained: “The battery case was an extremely challenging piece of engineering, as the entire powertrain is connected to the front of the aircraft. The battery case is therefore doing an extremely important job, not just providing containment in the case of a battery fire, but also keeping the front of the aircraft connected to the fuselage structure. On top of that, we had to keep weight to an absolute minimum, and ensure that the product used for the battery case was highly fire-resistant.”
Electroflight worked with Amorim Cork Composites to develop a fire-proofed agglomerate for the battery case internals made from cork lining. This unique invention, now patented, had the added benefit of being made from natural sustainable materials – a vital component given the overall objective of the ACCEL project: to accelerate aviation on the path to decarbonisation.
António Rios de Amorim, Chairman and CEO of Corticeira Amorim, said: “In the wake of COP26 last November, the need for electrification has never been clearer and aviation is one of the top priorities. It has been an honour to work with world-class businesses such as Electroflight and Rolls-Royce to further progress on the journey to aviation decarbonization, and the fact that we have created a new invention that could now help others down this path is extremely rewarding. We look forward to even more projects in this space that will champion the use of cork, one of nature’s most sustainable products.”