Rochdale firm’s tech helps tackle aviation emissions

Posted by on 26 Apr 2021

Image: Rochdale firm’s tech helps tackle aviation emissions

Photo © L-R Managing Director Andrew Wilding and Technical Director Dean Evans with the starter motor

A Rochdale manufacturer has helped create a piece of technology that could make a significant reduction to pollution in the aviation industry.

One of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases is when planes taxi around airport runways before and after landing.

NEMA is based in Rochdale’s Chichester Business Centre and has played a crucial role in building a new generation starter motor for a turbo prop light aircraft.

The motor provides the power to rotate the propeller to taxi the aircraft around the airport rather than using fuel, and also generates energy and charges the batteries during flight.

NEMA’s managing director Andrew Wilding said if the technology can be applied to bigger planes it could massively reduce pollution levels in the aviation sector.

The project forms part of the CleanSky 2 (CS2) programme,  which is a European public-private partnership designed to deliver significantly quieter and more environmentally friendly aircraft.

NEMA collaborated with the University of Nottingham and French aerospace giant Safran on the four-and-a-half-year ACHIEVE project, which stands for Advanced meCHatronIcs dEVices for a novel turboprop Electric starter-generator and health monitoring system.

NEMA specialise in making electrical motors and generators for aircraft and Andrew Wilding said the ACHIEVE project was a challenge NEMA couldn’t refuse. He said: “There’s a big push to reduce pollution in the aviation industry. One of the biggest contributors of pollution is when aircraft are taxiing.

“The idea behind ACHIEVE was to build a mechatronic device to deliver mechanical power to drive the propeller when the aircraft is taxiing between the airport and the runway or vice versa, reducing the need to use fuel, and to generate electricity that charges the batteries and powers the on-board electrical equipment during flight.” Mr Wilding said building a starter motor/generator for a light aircraft presented its own challenges.

“For a start it had to fit in a very tight space and had to be lightweight,” he explained. “However the toughest bit was fitting a motor around the propeller shaft and to gear it to run at 18,000 revolutions per minute (RPM).

“To put that in simple terms the propellor only turns at 1,700 rpm so to make it generate enough electricity we had to make it run over 10 times faster.

“I’m really proud of the expertise of the NEMA team in making it happen and playing a part in helping the environment.

“As far as I know this is a first. This motor was for a small aircraft but hopefully the technology can be used in bigger planes.

“It’s just another example of the cutting-edge technology coming out of Rochdale.”

NEMA has over 60 years’ experience, operating primarily within the aerospace and defence industries. The motor has now been delivered to Safran for engine integration.

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