Amorim Cork Composites, Corticeira Amorim’s business unit that develops products, solutions and applications for some of the most sophisticated industries in the world, is celebrating the successful test flight of a groundbreaking electric plane that used Amorim cork in its battery system.
The ‘Spirit of Innovation’ officially became the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle in January 2022, when speeds of 387.4mph reached during test flights in November 2021 were officially verified by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale – breaking three separate world speed records. It was the result of a long-term partnership between Rolls-Royce, YASA and Electroflight – a British aviation energy storage specialist and Amorim’s customer on this project.
Electroflight designed the entire powertrain and integrated battery system for the Spirit of Innovation, using three YASA 750 R axial-flux electric motors and more than 6,000 Murata VTC6 18650 NCA cylindrical cells. They needed to find a material for the battery case that would not only be structurally robust, but would also be light and extremely fire resistant.
Douglas Campbell, Technical Director for Electroflight, explained: “The battery case was an extremely challenging piece of engineering, as the entire powertrain is connected to the front of the aircraft. The battery case is therefore doing an extremely important job, not just providing containment in the case of a battery fire, but also keeping the front of the aircraft connected to the fuselage structure. On top of that, we had to keep weight to an absolute minimum, and ensure that the product used for the battery case was highly fire-resistant.”
Electroflight worked with Amorim Cork Composites to develop a fire-proofed agglomerate for the battery case internals made from cork lining. This unique invention, now patented, had the added benefit of being made from natural sustainable materials – a vital component given the overall objective of the ACCEL project: to accelerate aviation on the path to decarbonisation.
António Rios de Amorim, Chairman and CEO of Corticeira Amorim, said: “In the wake of COP26 last November, the need for electrification has never been clearer and aviation is one of the top priorities. It has been an honour to work with world-class businesses such as Electroflight and Rolls-Royce to further progress on the journey to aviation decarbonization, and the fact that we have created a new invention that could now help others down this path is extremely rewarding. We look forward to even more projects in this space that will champion the use of cork, one of nature’s most sustainable products.”
Douglas concluded: “This was an extremely successful project and we were pleased to partner with Amorim in bringing new innovations to market. Electroflight is looking forward to future work with Amorim to develop new technologies that will support the electrification and decarbonization of aviation.”