The future of aviation was on display at the recent Paris Air Show. Many concepts at the show featured super-fast speeds and low emissions, but one concept, the VoltAir, stood out for its zero-emission, all-electric propulsion technology.
As powerful as it is efficient, the VoltAir will be powered by a pair of advanced li-ion batteries beneath its nose, which send power to a pair of co-axial, counter-rotating propellers shrouded at the rear of the aircraft. It’s expected to be far quieter than traditional combustion engine aircraft.
Although its innovative propulsion system would radically change air travel, the design is also intended to reduce complexities and improve turnaround time at airports. When the VoltAir lands, depleted batteries are to be pulled out, fresh batteries will then be put in, and the plane quickly becomes ready for takeoff. Electricity would also be far cheaper than jet fuel.
The design of the VoltAir wouldn’t look too radically different from current aircraft, but the airframe would be made of composites that would make it stronger and significantly lighter. Drag on the plane would be reduced by the use of curling wing tips, similar to those on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Because the VoltAir would rely heavily on high-temperature superconducting (HTS) materials, which are only in the early stages of development, the VoltAir won’t see serious development anytime within the next few years. However, aircraft manufacturer EADS believes the design could become a reality as early as 2035.
“VoltAir is an upstream research concept, not a near-term commercial approach,” said Jean Botti, Chief Technical Officer of EADS. “Our research is very forward-looking and could be beneficial in different applications. As a systems architect for aircraft, we are pushing the envelope in this research to stimulate new ideas. The objective here is to push the envelope to move towards more electric, emission free propulsion.”
Check out the video below to see how the VoltAir’s electric propulsion technologies could pave the way towards ultra-quiet and emission-free flight.