Comparison of electrified aircraft propulsion drive systems with different electric motor topologies

Samith Sirimanna, Balachandran Thanatheepan, Dongsu Lee, Shivang Agrawal, Yangxue Yu, Yuyao Wang, Aaron Anderson, Arijit Banerjee, Kiruba Haran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Electric aircraft propulsion is a growing research area that looks into achieving propulsion through fully electric or hybrid electric systems while achieving low CO2 emissions. The system-level benefit gained by different electric and hybrid-electric propulsion schemes depends heavily on the performance of system-level components in the electric drive-train, including the electric motor, gear box, motor drive, protection systems, as well as the thermal management system. When comparing motor topologies, it is important to understand performance measures such as efficiency and specific power on a drive system level. Many different motor types have been qualitatively compared and can be found in the literature. To guide appropriate component selection, this paper presents details of a quantitative study for a given electric propulsion drive system. A Pareto optimal front for a notional drive system of a 1.5 MW electrical propulsor with different motor types is generated and compared. An optimization algorithm coupled with an electromagnetic finite element analysis software tool was used to optimize the induction motor, switched reluctance motor, wound rotor synchronous motor, permanent magnet synchronous motor (PMSM), slotless PMSM, permanent-magnet-assisted synchronous reluctance motor, brushless DC motor, and brushless doubly fed reluctance motor types for efficiency and specific power. Overall advantages considering system-level efficiency, specific power, and a few other key metrics such as origin of losses, cooling complexity, manufacturing tolerance, and fault tolerance are discussed. This gives an indication of the relative performance of different motor types and confirms the overall advantage of PM motor topologies in aircraft propulsion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)733-747
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Propulsion and Power
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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