SPS selected to participate in NASA’s Aeronautics Research Challenge as part of the 2023 University Leadership Initiative (ULI) Award 6

Special Power Sources (SPS) was selected as part of a team to participate in NASA’s Aeronautics Research Challenge dedicated to solving key challenges facing the future of air travel. The team includes 5 universities and 3 companies, including SPS. 

SPS will be joining Tennessee Technological University, Tennessee State University, The Ohio State University, University of Dayton, University of Washington – Bothell, Boeing Research & Technology, and Raytheon Technologies Research Center to develop a preliminary design for an electrified 150-passenger aircraft that uses an ammonia-based integrated propulsion, power, and thermal management system. The team will design and test several components and subsystems in order to create an electrified commercial passenger aircraft with zero-emissions.

The team’s plan is to test the integration of a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Combustor (SOFCC) with a turbogenerator (TG) with ammonia as a fuel source. This will lead to an extremely efficient conversion of fuel-to-electricity and a high power-to-weight ratio during high-altitude flight without any emissions. The SOFCC-TG power generation system effectively addresses numerous challenges encountered in all-electric propulsion-based aviation. Moreover, it features exceptional characteristics such as high part-load efficiency during cruise, high specific power density, load following capability, high-power capacity at high altitudes that can accommodate low temperatures and pressures, quick startup time, and efficient thermal management.

The findings of this research challenge will showcase SOFC’s ability to run efficiently on alternative fuel, leading the way to future applications and cleaner emissions for aircrafts. 

SPS was chosen for this team because of their expertise with SOFC applications and their experience in the past with designing SOFC-based electrification systems for aviation. 

“SPS is extremely pleased to continue our development of the SOFCC technology into future all-electric aviation technology. With the continuation of this research, SPS is determined to prove that SOFCs offer a viable path to electrification and use case for aviation ”- Roland Dixon, President/CEO

Learn more about the research challenge here: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-names-university-teams-to-take-on-aeronautics-research-challenges