NASA Glenn's research in Electrified Aircraft Propulsion (EAP) offers new possibilities for reducing fuel and energy usage in aviation. Innovative technologies, aircraft concepts, test aircraft, and ground test facilities will turn this vision of efficient flight from science fiction to reality.
From air taxis to subsonic transports, EAP will benefit the U.S. economy, the environment, and the flying public. These planes will be quieter, safer, and longer range, while offering cleaner air and cheaper airfare.
|“I feel like I’m working at the forefront of the future, at the cutting edge of aviation.” – NASA Glenn EAP Researcher|
To make electrified aircraft an efficient and commercial reality, several advanced technologies and innovative features are being developed for the electric power and thermal management systems.
NASA and its industry partners have conducted conceptual aircraft design studies to estimate fuel and emissions reductions and to determine the technological requirements for each configuration. Aircraft concepts span a range of sizes, markets, and technology assumption time frames.
Take a look at some of our flight demonstrators.
The NASA Electric Aircraft Testbed (NEAT) is an electric aircraft power system test facility at Glenn Research Center. NEAT is being used to perform both industry partnership testing and in-house NASA R&D. NASA Glenn also has a range of test capabilities for EAP components, including magnetic materials.
EAP in the News
Hear from the experts behind EAP projects about the development and impacts of their research in the NASA features below.
NASA Aeronautics and industry partners are expanding research for sustainable aviation by developing and testing new green technologies for next-generation aircraft to accomplish aviation’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2060.
02 June, 2021
NASA Aeronautics is expanding climate change research and making aviation sustainable with electrified propulsion systems, new aerodynamic designs, automation tools for airspace management, and sustainable aviation fuels.
21 April, 2021
The Engine Research Building (ERB) test complex at the NASA Glenn Research Center is being upgraded to meet research demands, for both aeronautics and spaceflight, while also making it an attractive test location for industry customers.
12 March, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions
High-efficiency electrified aircraft will require less energy, reduce the impact of air travel on the environment, and allow for cheaper air travel.
When will this technology be implemented commercially?
The correct building blocks are in place to have a viable large-plane EAP configuration tested by 2025 leading to entry into service in 2035.
We have electric cars, so why haven’t we had electric aircraft earlier?
Weight. Although a lighter car can have longer range than a heavier car, weight is less of a concern because ground vehicles don’t have to fight against gravity. The heavier an aircraft, the more power it requires for flight.
Also heat. In current power systems, 20% of energy is dissipated as excess heat that must be cooled.
A single-aisle size electric aircraft made with the technologies currently available would ultimately be too heavy to fly, and would require extra weight and energy to cool its components. Simply put, the plane would be inefficient. NASA is developing new technologies including motors, converters, circuit breakers, batteries, and cooling systems to keep components cooled while minimizing weight and heat loss.
What are some exciting developments in propulsion systems?
NASA’s High-Efficiency Electrified Aircraft Thermal Research (HEATheR) advanced power system showed the feasibility of a power system with 4x less loss and heat generation than the current state-of-the-art power system model. The power system driving the aircraft’s propellors, paired with an efficient cooling system, can result in a fuel-burn reduction of up to 15% depending on the type of aircraft model.
The High-Efficiency Megawatt Motor (HEMM) will have 99% efficiency and features new technologies including superconducting materials and self-cooling components.