Electric planes under development at Victoria University

  • 14/09/2017
Plane
Victoria Uni will collaborate with experts in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan. Photo credit: File

A jet plane project that could revolutionise air travel is being developed at Victoria University of Wellington.

The first hybrid-electric passenger plane is being researched by the university's Robinson Research Institute, and it was announced on Wednesday that the project has been awarded $6.3 million over the next three years by the government's Endeavour Fund.

All up, projects at the university have been given $29m to further their research, awarded by Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith.

Dr Rod Badcock from the Robinson Research Institute says looking into cleaner aviation technologies is vital for the future.

"Electric planes pose a big challenge as they will require very high-power propulsion systems which are subject to stringent weight constraints," he said.

"Existing electrical machines are simply too heavy. The only feasible approach is high-torque, high-speed machines that employ high temperature superconductors - we're planning to develop a motor for a Boeing 737-sized passenger plane."

Dr Badcock and his team will collaborate with experts in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan.

Other projects at the university that have received the Government funding include $8.2m towards studying supervolcano eruptions, $6.2m to research compounds for use in products that accelerate bone and tissue repair, and $7.1m over five years to develop a national set of sea-level rise estimates.

Professor Kate McGrath, Vice-Provost (Research), says the result reflects the exceptional leadership of Victoria's researchers in the scholarly community and beyond.

All up, the Endeavour Fund has awarded $248m to 68 projects from 17 universities, research institutes and other organisations.

NZN