Rolls-Royce Uncovered its Electric Aircraft, Targets a Top Speed of 300 mph

Credit: Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce is one of the largest manufacturers of aircraft engines in the world. However, like most companies that work on engines that use fossil fuels, it faces increased public backlash. Airplane engines produce a lot of CO2, which warms the planet ever so slightly. Luckily, they already work on electric airplanes. Their prototype is only a one-seater, but it’s a proof of concept that might change the future of aviation forever.

The concept airplane is named ACCEL, short for “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight.” The name also recalls speed, and this plane will have plenty of it. According to the company, the one-maned aircraft should achieve 300 mph (480 km/h). If Rolls-Royce delivers this speed, ACCEL will be the fastest electric aircraft in the world. Given the fact that the airplane carries heavy batteries on-board, that’s a significant achievement.

The battery is probably the most important part of the whole airplane and a technological marvel. It consists of 6,000 cells, enough for a range of 200 miles (320 kilometers). That’s enough juice to propel the aircraft from New York to Boston with only one charge. If that doesn’t sound like much, here is another fun fact: the battery can power up to 250 homes at a time. The battery has a proprietary cooling system for consistent performance.

To achieve the 300-mph top speed, Rolls-Royce equipped the aircraft with three high-power axial electric motors that produce around 500 horsepower. The motors will power the propellers, which will turn at a slower speed for a silent flight. ACEEL will also have VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) and STOL (short takeoff and landing) capabilities for taking off in tighter spaces.

“We believe pure electric, or all-electric, propulsion will power smaller aircraft in the foreseeable future- while larger aircraft will rely on hybrid electric solutions that combine electrification with evolutions of the gas turbine,” stated Paul Stein, the CTO of Rolls-Royce. Apart from Rolls-Royce, the UK Government also participated in the project, as well as YASA (manufacturer of lightweight electric motors), and Electroflight (manufacturer of electric powertrains). The ACCEL electric aircraft should first touch the sky in spring 2020.

Bianca Van der Watt

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