Author ORCID Identifier
Year of Publication
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Dr. Dan M. Ionel
Electric aircraft have gained increasing attention in recent years due to their potential for environmental and economic benefits over conventional airplanes. In order to offer competitive flight times and payload capabilities, electric aircraft power systems (EAPS) must exhibit extremely high efficiencies and power densities. While advancements in enabling technologies have progressed the development of high performance EAPS, further research is required.
One challenge in the design of EAPS is determining the best topology to be employed. This work proposes a new graph theory based method for the optimal design of EAPS. This method takes into account data surveyed from a large set of references on commonly seen components including electric machines, power electronics and jet engines. Thousands of design candidates are analyzed based on performance metrics such as end-to-end system efficiency, overall mass, and survivability. It is also shown that sensitivity analysis may be used to systematically evaluate the impact of components and their parameters on various aspects of the architecture design.
Once an EAPS architecture has been selected, further, detailed, validation of the power system is required. In these EAPS, many subsystems exist with timescales varying from minutes to hours when considering the aerodynamics, to nanosecond dynamics in the power electronics. This dissertation presents a multiphysics co-simulation framework for the evaluation of EAPS with a unique decoupling method to reduce simulation time without sacrificing detail. The framework has been exemplified on a case study of a 500kW all-electric aircraft, including models for aerodynamics, energy storage, electric motors and power electronics.
Electric machines for aviation propulsion must meet several performance requirements, including a constant power speed range (CPSR) of approximately thirty percent above rated speed. This operation is traditionally achieved through the flux weakening technique with an injection of negative d-axis current. However, the degree of CPSR achievable through flux weakening is a strong function of the back emf and d-axis inductance. This dissertation reviews alternative methods for CPSR operation in machines with low inductance. A new method of current weakening has been proposed to address this challenge, involving reducing the machine's current inversely proportional to the operating speed, maintaining constant power through the extended speed range. One benefit of the proposed method is that all current is maintained in the q-axis, maintaining maximum torque per ampere operation.
Coreless axial flux permanent magnet (AFPM) machines have recently gained significant attention due to their specific form factor, potentially higher power density and lower losses. Coreless machine designs promise high efficiency particularly at higher speeds, due to the absence of a ferromagnetic core. In this dissertation, coreless AFPM machines with PCB stators are investigated as candidates for propulsion in electric aircraft applications. Two PCB stator design variations are presented with both simulation and experimental results.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
This Ph.D. dissertation is based upon work supported by NASA Kentucky under NASA awards: KY GF-18-020, KY GF-19-051, and KY GF-20-055.
Lawhorn, Damien, "Electric Power Systems and Components for Electric Aircraft" (2021). Theses and Dissertations--Electrical and Computer Engineering. 163.