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BrightLoop is part of CleanSky 2 program

SMEs driving innovation for clean aviation

One of today’s main challenges in the aircraft industry is to shift towards more energy-efficient integrated electrical architectures, to optimize as well the non-propulsive energy generation and distribution. Designing Auxiliary Power Units (APU) that are able to interact smoothly with the main engines will allow fuel savings and to reduce CO2 generation.

BrightLoop Converters is participating in the Clean Sky 2 program under the SMARTCONVSYST project which is related to “High Density Energy Conversion System for an APU”. The main goal is to tackle the challenges brought by this shift to cleaner air mobility by providing an optimized integrated APU including gearbox, electric machine and power electronics to generate 540VDC that will be directly injected into the aircraft’s HVDC electrical network.

The project therefore includes the design, manufacture and test of a new concept in the generation of electricity in aircraft with an APU combined with high speed electrical generation. Thanks to the high speed architecture, the size and weight of the gearbox and electrical generator are much reduced, compared with state-of-the-art solutions. Also, the full reversibility of the system allows removing the starter machine, previously required. This results into a very energy-efficient, compact and lightweight system to convert gas to HVDC electrical power.

BrightLoop Converters_diagram

BrightLoop Converters has taken the position of coordinator in this project, putting to use its +10-year expertise in power electronics to lead the consortium formed together with Akira and Erneo. The project, led by Safran, runs until 2023.

So far we have managed to choose among the most promising technologies to evaluate, define the architecture, and design the different elements. The first integration tests of the different elements will begin in early 2021, before integrating the turbo-engine generator in Safran’s facility.

Our 2 SME partners, Akira and Erneo, share BrightLoop’s capacity to deliver high power density and highly efficient solutions for aeronautics applications. Akira is specialized in the design and the realization of energy conversion systems and special test benches while Erneo specializes in the design and manufacture of high performance electric motors, electric generators and magnetic systems.

Participating in the Clean Sky program as an SME is a real opportunity for all of us. It is a unique occasion to develop cutting-edge technology, to connect with other SMEs that share the same passion for innovation and push us to surpass ourselves, and above all to have an opportunity to participate in defining the future of a cleaner, safer and more innovative aviation industry. It is great to demonstrate how smaller companies have a role to play in this change at a bigger scale, alongside big players such as Safran and Airbus, and complementary to their internal R&T departments.

These past months have been both very challenging and very interesting for BrightLoop Converters and many other SMEs as we have gone through an unprecedented situation. Covid-19 surely has brought concerns as activity slowed down for many of us and uncertainty arose, especially on the civilian aeronautics market. Still, such a complex market requires long-term commitments, and programs such as Clean Sky are therefore essential to allow us to get past such difficult times, and prepare long-term innovations.

Clean Sky is a vehicle for cooperation between SMEs but also for job creation. In this sense, the program clearly represents a support of the European industrial network. At BrightLoop Converters, we have faith in this type of program, which enables us to build new technologies as quickly as possible to accelerate the development of cleaner aircraft, but also gives SMEs a space in the industrial chain of a complex domain. We are proud to participate in innovation programs of this type and thus be at the heart of European innovation.

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