CERN and Airbus Collaborate on Future Clean Aviation
CERN and Airbus UpNext, a wholly owned subsidiary of Airbus, have started a new partnership to look into how superconducting technologies developed by CERN for particle accelerators could be used in the electrical distribution systems of future hydrogen-powered aircraft.
Superconducting technologies have the potential to make the next generation of aeroplanes much lighter and more fuel efficient.
The partnership focuses on making a prototype called SCALE (Superconductors for Aviation with Low Emissions). CERN's expertise in superconducting technologies is combined with Airbus UpNext's skills in designing and making innovative aircraft.
If the predicted performance and reliability goals are met, the partnership may be able to reach its ambitious goal of flying a fully integrated prototype within the next 10 years.
“In its research, CERN pushes back the limits of science and engineering, and partners with industry to enable innovation, with a positive impact on the environment,” said Raphaël Bello, CERN’s Director of Finance and Human Resources. “Our technologies have the potential to be adapted to the needs of future clean transportation and mobility solutions, as this agreement with Airbus demonstrates. This partnership is only a first step in our journey with the European leader in aviation, and shows how much we value the excellence of our Member States’ industry.”
“Our role at Airbus UpNext is to explore the full potential of technologies for future aircraft and to partner with the world’s leaders to prepare for this future. Partnering with a leading research institute like CERN, which has brought the world some of the most important findings in fundamental physics, will help to push the boundaries of research in clean aerospace as we work to make sustainable aviation a reality”, said Sandra Bour-Schaeffer, CEO of Airbus UpNext. “We are already developing a superconductivity demonstrator called ASCEND (Advanced Superconducting and Cryogenic Experimental powertraiN Demonstrator) to study the feasibility of this technology for electrically powered and hybrid aircraft. Combining knowledge obtained from our demonstrator and CERN’s unique capabilities in the field of superconductors makes for a natural partnership.”
"Superconducting technologies have fueled some of the most significant discoveries in high-energy physics, and if applied to aircraft power distribution systems, they would drastically reduce weight and increase efficiency. CERN has over 40 years of expertise in building world-record superconducting systems that are at the core of existing and next-generation particle accelerators. Such systems present negligible resistance to the flow of current, thus transmitting much higher intensities than traditional, heavier, non-superconducting cables,” said José Miguel Jimenez, Head of the Technology department at CERN.