Fan and Motor Co-Optimization for a Distributed Electric Aircraft Propulsion System

Durgesh Chandel, John D. Reband, David K. Hall, Thanatheepan Balachandran, Jianqiao Xiao, Kiruba S. Haran, Edward M. Greitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An integrated modeling approach is presented for the conceptual design of electric aircraft propulsors, with application to NASA's hydrogen fuel-cell-powered transport aircraft concept, being developed under the Center for High-Efficiency Electrical Technologies for Aircraft (CHEETA) program. The distributed boundary layer ingesting (BLI) fan module and the fan-hub-embedded MgB2-based fully superconducting (SC) electric motors are modeled together using signomial programming (SP). An all-at-once SP optimization eliminates external design iterations between modules and provides sensitivities to design parameters as part of the optimization solution. In addition, the approach developed here is modular and component models can be easily added to study various aircraft architectures. A trade space exploration of CHEETA propulsors indicates a highly distributed 32-wing and fuselage-mounted propulsor configuration, powered by 0.5- and 1.6-MW motors, respectively, as the optimal, yielding 16% reduction in the aircraft electric energy consumption relative to a conventional twin-electric underwing propulsors' design. However, the design selected is a nine-propulsor configuration with 2.4-MW motors (power range more suitable for fully SC architecture), with about 14% power savings. The fan-embedded motor architecture leads to fan hub-to-tip ratios of up to 0.5, which are higher than typical.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3579-3589
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Transportation Electrification
Issue number3
Early online dateSep 5 2022
StatePublished - Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • AC motors
  • aircraft propulsion
  • electric machines
  • geometric programming
  • superconducting (SC) magnets
  • system analysis and design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Automotive Engineering


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