Rolls-Royce Plc committed to develop energy storage capability for aircraft as part of its strategy to enter new aviation markets. More specifically, Rolls allocated £80 million ($95 million) in development funding over the next decade, targeting energy-storage systems (ESS) that would allow an aircraft to complete zero-emissions flights of over 100 miles on a single charge.
It noted that the development program will create around 300 jobs by 2030 and strengthen Rolls’ position as a supplier of all-electric and hybrid-electric power and propulsion systems for aviation.
The ESS that Rolls is working toward would power electric and hybrid-electric propulsion systems for eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft of the types being developed for “urban air mobility,” as well asl for fixed-wing aircraft with up to 19 seats.
By 2035, Rolls-Royce hopes to integrate more than 5 million battery cells annually into modular systems.
“We are developing a portfolio of energy storage solutions to complement our electrical propulsion systems,” said Rob Watson, Rolls-Royce director of Electrical. “This will ensure that we can offer our customers a complete electric propulsion system for their platform, whether that is an eVTOL or a commuter aircraft. It will enable us to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for all-electric or hybrid-electric propulsion systems, which is incredibly exciting as these new markets develop and expand.”
Rolls-Royce to date has designed 10 different aerospace battery systems, four of which have flown in three aircraft, accumulating over 250 hours of flight experience. Two other designs will complete their first flight in aircraft in 2021 -- including a battery developed with Electroflight for the U.K.’s ACCEL program, which is working to develop the world’s fastest all-electric plane.
Also, Rolls-Royce and airframer Tecnam are working with the Scandinavian regional airline Widerøe to deliver an all-electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market, which aims to be in service in 2026. Rolls-Royce will deliver the entire electrical propulsion system, including an energy storage system for the new P-VOLT aircraft.