The thermal testing was critical for validating the design and quality of the controllers, which are crucial components for supplying power to the X-57’s experimental electric motors.
The cruise motor controllers use silicon carbide transistors to deliver 98% efficiency during high power takeoff and cruise, which minimizes heat generation and allows the controllers to be cooled by air flowing through the motors. During a recent test at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, each of the flight motor controllers was subjected to temperatures ranging from minus 11 to 147 degrees Fahrenheit, and all survived.
The testing team monitored the temperature responses of the power and control components inside the controllers to ensure that they remained within the allowable temperature range limits. This close monitoring ensures that the cruise motor controllers will function properly during piloted research flights.
Now that the ground tests have validated the controllers under the most extreme temperature conditions expected in flight, the X-57 team is one step closer to integrating all of Maxwell’s systems. The next major step before research flights take place is a Flight Readiness Review at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.
Electric airplanes represent a promising solution to reducing carbon emissions in the aviation industry, the development of electric aircraft like the X-57 Maxwell is crucial to realizing this vision_