Rolls-Royce to develop energy storage systems for aircraft
Photo courtesy of Rolls Royce

Rolls-Royce to develop energy storage systems for aircraft

Rolls-Royce announced that it will be developing energy storage systems (ESS) that will enable aircraft to undertake zero emissions flights of more than 100 miles on a single charge. 

In order to deliver this ground-breaking technology, Rolls-Royce said it will invest GBP80 million (USD112.6 million) in energy storage systems over the next decade. The investment will strengthen its position as the leading supplier of all-electric and hybrid-electric power and propulsion systems for aviation, and will create around 300 jobs by 2030, the company said.

Aerospace-certified ESS solutions from Rolls-Royce will power electric and hybrid-electric propulsion systems for electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOLs) in the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market and fixed-wing aircraft, with up to 19 seats, in the commuter market. 

By 2035, Rolls-Royce is planning to integrate more than five million battery cells per annum into modular systems. These modules will deliver market-leading energy density levels.

“This multi-million-pound investment by Rolls-Royce over the next decade is another demonstration of our ambitions in electrification. We are developing a portfolio of energy storage solutions to complement our electrical propulsion systems. 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,” said Rob Watson, director of Electrical, Rolls-Royce.

Rolls-Royce has been delivering battery solutions for many years and has designed 10 different aerospace battery systems, using state-of-the-art cell technology. Of these batteries, four designs have already flown in three aircraft, accumulating more than 250 hours of flight experience. Two more designs will complete their first flight in aircraft in 2021. This includes a battery developed with Electroflight, its UK manufacturing partner in the ACCEL programme. The Spirit of Innovation aircraft, which was built under the ACCEL programme, aims to be the world’s fastest all-electric plane.

 Both ACCEL and the initial research and technology to develop industry leading energy storage systems are being supported by the UK Government through the Aerospace Technology Institute.