Structural power performance targets for future electric aircraft
Journal article, 2021

The development of commercial aviation is being driven by the need to improve efficiency and thereby lower emissions. All-electric aircraft present a route to eliminating direct fuel burning emissions, but their development is stifled by the limitations of current battery energy and power densities. Multifunctional structural power composites, which combine load-bearing and energy-storing functions, offer an alternative to higher-energy-density batteries and will potentially enable lighter and safer electric aircraft. This study investigated the feasibility of integrating structural power composites into future electric aircraft and assessed the impact on emissions. Using the Airbus A320 as a platform, three different electric aircraft configurations were designed conceptually, incorporating structural power composites, slender wings and distributed propulsion. The specific energy and power required for the structural power composites were estimated by determining the aircraft mission performance requirements and weight. Compared to a conventional A320, a parallel hybrid-electric A320 with structural power composites >200 Wh/kg could potentially increase fuel efficiency by 15% for a 1500 km mission. For an all-electric A320, structural power composites >400 Wh/kg could halve the specific energy or mass of batteries needed to power a 1000 km flight.








Elitza Karadotcheva

Imperial College London

Sang N. Nguyen

Imperial College London

Emile S. Greenhalgh

Imperial College London

M. S. Shaffer

Imperial College London

A. Kucernak

Imperial College London

Peter Linde

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science

German Aerospace Center (DLR)


1996-1073 (ISSN) 19961073 (eISSN)

Vol. 14 19 6006

Structural pOweR CompositEs foR futurE civil aiRcraft (SORCERER)

European Commission (EC) (EC/H2020/738085), 2017-02-01 -- 2020-02-28.

Subject Categories

Aerospace Engineering

Energy Systems

Marine Engineering



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