Alun Morgan

Are low-loss flex circuit materials an enabler?

Saab may have been first to bring aerospace technologies overtly into the automotive world when it introduced the aerodynamically styled 92 in 1948. The idea proved popular and effective, setting a trend that has made technologies such as infrared vision, radar and heads-up displays common features in today’s vehicles.

The flow of technology and know-how may soon be seen in reverse, as the aviation industry seeks to clean up its environmental credentials. In my last column, I mentioned Airbus’ recent flying achievements with fully electric planes. The company is also experimenting with hybrid platforms powered by a combination of lithium-ion batteries and a range-extending combustion engine, and recently unveiled several new hydrogen-powered concepts.

We can expect technological progress toward larger planes capable of longer flights; the ultimate goal, obviously, is zero-emission planes operating commercially viable services. Key challenges facing battery-powered electric aircraft include compensating for the extra weight of large Li-ion batteries. There are also demands for charging infrastructure and safe solutions to minimize recharging times so operators can turn services around quickly. The automotive industry has experience dealing with these issues and could provide solutions.

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