Cryogenic Propulsion for Zero Emission Aviation

We focus on developing cryogenic propulsion powertrain for zero emission aviation, using high temperature superconductors to improve the overall power density and efficiency of the powertrain. We perform both component level studies and system level studies, using both experimental and numerical methodologies. We have developed 10 kW prototype superconducting motors and cryogenic drives. 

Testing platforms to characterize transistors at cryogenic temperatures have been developed to enable double pulse, paralleling, forward and breakdown voltage tests. 

Project funded publicly

1. Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship “ Fully superconducting machines for next generation electric aircraft propulsion” (PI: Dr Min Zhang): this is a five-year project focusing on designing and developing axial-flux HTS machines with optimized power density and efficiency. As a result of the project, new modelling tools and testing platforms were developed, enabling the quantification of the HTS machines. Related papers are listed below:

  • Fully superconducting machine for electric aircraft propulsion: study of AC loss for HTS stator

F. Weng, M. Zhang, T. Lan, Y. Wang and W. Yuan

The platform represents a key element in studying ways to minimize AC losses in an HTS stator, in order to maximize the efficiency of fully HTS machines.

  • Transient Test and AC Loss Study of a Cryogenic Propulsion Unit for All Electric Aircraft

F. Weng, M. Zhang, A. Elwakeel, T. Lan, N. McNeill and W. Yuan

The paper provides initial insights into the interaction between superconducting machines and cryogenic power electronics within a cryogenic propulsion unit.

2. H2020-EU.1.3.2 “Developing novel high temperature superconductor rotor windings for electric aircraft propulsion machines” (PI: Prof Weijia Yuan): this two-year project study the use of non-insulated HTS windings to improve the thermal stability of propulsion machines. Related papers are listed below:

  • Study of the magnetization loss of CORC® cables using a 3D TA formulation

Y. Wang, M. Zhang, F. Grilli, Z. Zhu and W. Yuan

This paper provides an efficient tool for investigating the electromagnetic behavior of CORC cables, which can provide valuable guidance in designing CORC cables with minimized losses for high energy physics and energy conversion applications.

  • Quench behavior of high-temperature superconductor (Re) Ba2cu3o X corc cable

Y. Wang, J. Zheng, Z. Zhu, M. Zhang and W Yuan

A 3D multi-physics model is developed based on the T–A formulation to study the physical process of the hot spot-induced quench of REBCO CORC cables

  • Electromagnetic modelling using T-A formulation for high-temperature superconductor (RE)Ba2Cu3O x high field magnets

Y. Wang, H. Bai, J. Li, M. Zhang and W. Yuan

This paper presents an electromagnetic modelling based on T-A formulation for high field magnets using REBCO tapes.

  • A parallel co-wound no-insulation REBCO pancake coil for improving charging delays

J. Geng and M. Zhang

The parallel co-wound no-insulation CC coil structure was proposed.

3. EPSRC “Developing Highly efficient HTS AC windings for fully superconducting machines” (PI: Dr Min Zhang): this two-year project focused on identifying solutions for HTS AC windings with minimised losses and improved machine efficiency. Meanwhile, the project developed advanced modelling tools for large-scale HTS windings. Related papers are listed below:

  • An efficient 3D finite element method model based on the T–A formulation for superconducting coated conductors

H. Zhang, M. Zhang and W. Yuan

A general 3D FEM model based on the T–A formulation for superconducting coated conductors is presented.

  • A finite element model for simulating second generation high temperature superconducting coils/stacks with large number of turns

F. Lianvg, S. Venuturumilli, H. Zhang, M. Zhang, J. Kvitkovic, S. Pamidi, Y. Wang and W. Yuan

An efficient two dimensional T-A formulation based approach is proposed to calculate the electromagnetic characteristics of tape stacks and coils made of second generation high temperature superconductors

  • An effective way to reduce AC loss of second-generation high temperature superconductors

M. Wang, M. Zhang, M. Song, Z. Li, F. Dong, Z. Hong and Z. Jin

The study confirms that the 3S wire can be a promising technology to improve the performance and efficiency of 2G HTS applications, e.g. HTS machines and cables.

  • Influence of Harmonic Current on Magnetization Loss of a Triaxial CORC REBCO Cable for Hybrid Electric Aircraft

Z. Zhu, Y. Wang, S. Venuturumilli, J. Sheng, M. Zhang and W. Yuan

A FEM model based on the T-A formulation was built to calculate the magnetization loss induced by transport current in a tri-axial CORC HTS cable (10 MW/3 kV/2 kA) designed for hybrid-electric aircraft. 

4. UK Aerospace Research and Technology Programme: Feasibility Analysis and Modelling of MgB2 Superconducting Electrical Power Machines (Pi: Dr Min Zhang). This project, in collaboration with Epoch Wires Ltd, focused on experimentally and numerically measure MgB2 wires for superconducting machine applications. Related papers are listed below:

  • Magnetization Loss in HTS Coated Conductor Exposed to Harmonic External Magnetic Fields for Superconducting Rotating Machine Applications

M. Yazdani-Asrami, W. Song, M. Zhang, W. Yuan and X. Pei

Magnetization AC loss in HTS CC was studied, considering the phase angle φ of each harmonic; assuming superconductor is subjected to external magnetic field which is distorted by the 3rd and the 5th harmonics.

  • Prediction of Nonsinusoidal AC Loss of Superconducting Tapes Using Artificial Intelligence-Based Models

M. Yazdani-Asrami, M. Taghipour-Gorjikolaie, W. Song, M. Zhang and W. Yuan

Several artificial intelligence-based models and approaches were introduced and implemented for predicting AC loss of a typical HTS tape.

5. Royal Society Research Grant “A novel superconducting permanent magnet to enable future energy conversion” (PI: Dr Min Zhang): this two-year project developed a new type of HTS ring magnet with large sizes to replace permanent magnets. The latest testing results showed a 4.6 T magnetic field in the centre of a HTS ring magnet with a 95 mm diameter. The work was awarded a SUST Jan Evetts award in 2017. Related papers are listed below:

  • 4.6 T generated by a high-temperature superconducting ring magnet

M. Z. Ali, J. Zheng, F. Huber, Z. Zhang, W. Yuan and M. Zhang

A trapped field of 4.60 T was recorded using the FC magnetization method for a double-stacked HTS ring magnet. The HTS ring magnet can be flexible in size by choosing different slit lengths, and several ring magnets can be stacked together to make a longer magnet. 

  • A new ring-shape high-temperature superconducting trapped-field magnet

J. Sheng, M. Zhang, Y. Wang, X. Li, J. Patel and W. Yuan

This paper reports our latest study on a new type of 2G HTS trapped-field magnet: the so-called ring-shape magnet. The new magnet is very promising in large-scale applications, where they could replace permanent magnets.

Projects funded by industry

1. Airbus funded project: Characterisation of semiconductor switches at cryogenic temperatures. Related papers are listed below:

  • Study of Power Devices for Use in Phase-Leg at Cryogenic Temperature

A. Elwakeel, Z. Feng, N. McNeill, M. Zhang, B. Williams and W. Yuan

In this paper several power semiconductor devices are tested at room and cryogenic temperature in order to evaluate their performance at lower temperature.

2. Airbus funded research project: Design and simulation study of superconducting cables for all HTS propulsion network. Related papers are listed below:

  • Investigation of HTS cable impact on turbo-electric aircraft performance

S. Venuturumilli, F. Berg, M. Zhang and W. Yuan

A simple electric network architecture, as proposed in the literature has been considered, which includes generators, dynamic propulsion load and cables.

  • Forceful Uniform Current Distribution Among All the Tapes of a Coaxial Cable to Enhance the Operational Current

S. Venuturumilli, F. Berg, Z. Zhang, F. Liang, J. Patel, M. Zhang and W. Yuan

This paper proposes the use of voltage shunts between HTS layers at constant intervals for regular current redistributions along the length of the cable.

  • Influence of Harmonic Current on Magnetization Loss of a Triaxial CORC REBCO Cable for Hybrid Electric Aircraft

Z. Zhu, Y. Wang, S. Venuturumilli, J. Sheng, M. Zhang and W. Yuan

This paper analyzes the influence of harmonic current on the magnetization loss of a triaxial CORC HTS cable (10 MW, 3 kV/2 kA), which is designed for hybrid-electric aircraft.

3. Industrially funded PhD project: Superconducting Busbar