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Rolls Royce to Invest £80 Million in Developing Aviation Energy Storage Technology

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Rolls Royce has announced plans to invest £80 million in its quest to pioneer sustainable power over the next decade, creating around 300 jobs by 2030. This investment will develop Energy Storage Systems (ESS), enabling aircraft to undertake zero-emissions flights of over 100 miles on a single charge.

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

Plans are also underway for Rolls-Royce to integrate more than 5 million battery cells per annum into modular systems by 2035. These modules will deliver market-leading energy density levels.

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 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.

Rob Watson, Director of Electrical, Rolls-Royce

Rolls Royce has so far designed ten different aerospace battery systems, with four of these designs having already flown in three aircraft, accumulating more than 250 hours of flight experience. Another two designs will complete their first flight in aircraft in 2021. This includes a battery developed with Electroflight, the company’s UK manufacturing partner in the ACCEL programme, in which they have built the Spirit of Innovation aircraft that is aiming to be the world’s fastest all-electric plane.

In developing the energy storage technology, Rolls Royce is also working closely with WMG, the University of Warwick through its High-Value Manufacturing Catapult, an experienced research partner with extensive knowledge gained through supporting the automotive and other sectors.

Rolls-Royce and airframer Tecnam are currently working with Widerøe – the largest regional airline in Scandinavia – to deliver an all-electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market, which is planned to be ready for revenue service in 2026. Rolls-Royce will deliver the entire electrical propulsion system, including an energy storage system for the new P-VOLT aircraft.

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