Kite Magnetics, in collaboration with Swinburne University of Technology’s Aerostructures Innovation Research (AIR) Hub, is proud to announce a groundbreaking milestone in the development of a highly efficient, low-noise propeller designed specifically for electric aircraft using Kite's KM-120 electric engine. This project is being undertaken as part of the AIR Hub’s AIR Pass program, which is designed to support small and medium-sized enterprises in the aviation industry. The new propeller blade design will offer efficiencies of up to 92 per cent, representing up to a five per cent increase over industry-average propeller efficiencies. The preliminary results from computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling of the initial propeller blade design showcase the potential for enhanced performance and reduced noise emissions in electric aircraft propulsion.

Over the past three months, the joint research team has been dedicated to creating a propeller that optimises efficiency while minimising noise, a critical factor in the successful integration of electric propulsion in aviation. The CFD simulation provides a detailed look at the proposed propeller blade's motion, revealing the formation of helical vortices in the propeller's wake. By analysing the velocity contours within the wake regions, the team has identified areas of potential noise generation and drag, paving the way for further refinements in the design.

"By combining this cutting-edge propeller design with our ultra-efficient KM-120 electric engine, electric aircraft will be able to stay in the air for longer, making electric flight more viable than ever before," said Dr. Richard Parsons, CEO of Kite Magnetics. "Our partnership with Swinburne has been instrumental in pushing the boundaries of what's possible in electric aviation."

"By leveraging the expertise of Swinburne and our team's deep knowledge of aerodynamics and aerostructures, we are proud to be supporting Kite Magnetics on their deep tech challenges," said Dr Adriano Di Pietro, Director of the AIR Hub at Swinburne.

The data collected from the CFD simulations, including velocity and vorticity, will be instrumental in optimising the propeller design for the KM120 motor. By fine-tuning the blade geometry and pitch, Kite Magnetics aims to maximise the propeller's performance, ultimately leading to extended flight times and reduced energy consumption for electric aircraft.

With the Australian Government’s recently released Aviation Green Paper suggesting that approximately 50 per cent of propeller-powered flights under 500km will be electric by 2050, the development of efficient and quiet propellers is a critical step towards making electric flight a reality. Kite Magnetics and Swinburne are at the forefront of this transformation, combining cutting-edge research with practical engineering to create a propeller that will help shape the future of electric aviation.

The team will continue to fine-tune the propeller design based on the CFD results, with plans to conduct real-world testing and validation. The successful integration of this propeller with the Kite Magnetics KM-120 electric engine is expected to significantly enhance the performance and viability of electric aircraft, bringing the industry closer to a cleaner, quieter and more sustainable future.

About the AIR Hub

Swinburne University of Technology’s Aerostructures Innovation Research (AIR) Hub is a research and industry collaboration. We are developing the next generation of aerostructures for use in civil aviation, eVTOLs, UAS, AAM and space. The AIR Pass program has been developed for startup companies, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises with strong, sustainable growth ambitions and a passion for growing Australia's aviation and aerospace entrepreneurial ecosystem. The program is designed for early-stage ventures that have a sense of their product-market fit potential and are looking for prototyping and technology support to assist in the delivery of a minimum viable product.

About Kite Magnetics

Kite Magnetics is a venture-backed aerospace manufacturing company based in Melbourne, Australia that is enabling electric aircraft to fly up to 15% further by producing the next generation of smaller, lighter and more efficient electric motors. Their motors use a new nanocrystalline magnetic materials technology called Aeroperm™ that was co-developed at Monash University by founder and CEO Dr Richard Parsons. They are developing 60 kW (80 hp) and 120 kW (160 hp) electric engines for 2 and 4-seat electric aircraft for both certified and uncertified aircraft. Kite's long-term vision is to become a global aerospace OEM powering your 2030 zero-emissions flight into the sky.

Apr 3, 2024

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