The future of air travel is all about electricity. The aim is to manufacture aircraft in a more resource-efficient way and to make flying quieter and more environmentally friendly. In the Clean Sky Programme initiated by the EU, the foundations for climate-friendly flying will be researched. This summer, the IMITAES project, which deals with electrical safety, was launched as part of this programme. Bender is playing a decisive role in it.
IMITAES stands for Insulation Monitoring for IT Aircraft Electrical Systems. This project will run until mid-2023. By then, a feasibility study and the laboratory set-up for a functioning high-performance system in electric aircraft will be prepared. This prestigious project is coordinated by the University of Sheffield, aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls Royce is acting as topic manager and compiling the catalogue of requirements, and the hardware is supplied by Bender, a company specialising in electrical safety based in Grünberg, Hesse. The funding for the entire project is €700,000, almost half of which goes to Bender.
Electric aircraft - a new challenge in aircraft construction
Although aircraft traditionally equipped with turboprop or turbofan engines already have an electrical on-board network for controls and the in-flight entertainment system, the requirements increase enormously for an all-electric aircraft. Currently, large passenger aircraft use electrical systems with DC 270 volts and AC 115 or 230 volts. In electric aircraft, much higher voltages and significantly higher power quantities in the megawatt range are required for the electrically or hybrid-electrically powered engines. To ensure safe and reliable operation, cables, controls and other electrical components must be designed for these high voltages and power levels. At the same time, new types of components must be developed that guarantee electrical safety for the user and the aircraft. Bender is therefore asked to develop, demonstrate and supply an innovative insulation monitoring system suitable for the electric aviation industry. The monitoring technology must be 100 percent reliable even under extreme environmental conditions. This means that all components must be able to withstand high mechanical loads, such as vibrations, as well as different air pressures, extreme temperatures, altitude radiation and humidity.
For Bender, it is a great honour and privilege to be able to work on the project. "We are active in all markets that require electrical safety, such as industrial installations, shipbuilding, hospitals or in the field of e-mobility. It is a logical consequence that we also use our experience and expertise in this new field of application to make electricity available, intelligent and safe in electric aviation," says Mario Lehr, Vice President Business Unit eMobility at Bender. Insulation monitoring in unearthed systems (IT systems) is one of the core business areas of the medium-sized company from Hesse. The company hopes that it will also be involved in follow-up projects. An extra staff member was employed for IMITAES.
Background: Clean Sky is a joint programme of the European Commission and the European aviation industry. It will coordinate and fund research activities to deliver quieter and more environmentally friendly aircraft. Aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls Royce is topic manager of the IMITAES project and one of the sponsors of the Clean Sky programme. IMITAES is a project within Clean Sky. The term is two years and will end on 30 June 2023. Bender GmbH & Co KG is the market leader for electrical insulation monitoring systems. The group of companies, headquartered in Grünberg, Hesse, has more than 1,100 employees in 15 countries around the world.
Project page of the European Commission: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/101008082
Project page of the University of Sheffield: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/highreliabilitydrives/projects/imitaes