STMicro' semiconductor devices to enable hybrid powering of Airbus engines

Date: 20/06/2023
Airbus and STMicroelectronics agreed to research together to develop power electronics for future hybrid-powered aircraft and full-electric urban air vehicles. The joint research includes employing less power consuming switching devices made using advanced materials such as Silicon Carbide and Gallium Nitride.

Since weight and size of the systems and materials used in a aircrafts is a critical design factor, power electronics design engineers explore the benefits of wide bandgap semiconductor materials for aircraft electrification. Wide bandgap semiconductors like Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN) enable the development of smaller, lighter and more efficient high-performance electronic devices and systems, particularly in applications requiring high power, high frequency, or high-temperature operations.

ST Airbus

The joint effort to focus on developing SiC and GaN devices, packages, and modules adapted for Airbus’ aerospace applications. "The companies will assess these components by conducting advanced research and tests on demonstrators, such as e-motor control units, high and low voltage power converters, and wireless power transfer systems" said STMicro.

“This collaboration with STMicroelectronics, a global leader in power semiconductors and wide bandgap technologies, will be key to support Airbus’ electrification roadmap,” said Sabine Klauke, Airbus Chief Technical Officer. “Leveraging their expertise and experience in power electronics for automotive and industrial applications with our own record in aircraft and VTOL electrification will help us accelerate the development of the disruptive technologies required for the ZEROe roadmap and CityAirbus NextGen.”

“STMicroelectronics is the market leader at the cutting edge of the development of innovative power semiconductors with higher-efficiency products and solutions based on advanced materials, such as Silicon Carbide and Gallium Nitride. We already have a strong, transformational presence in mobility and industrial applications, reinforced by a vertically integrated global SiC supply chain, to support our customers globally with electrification and decarbonisation,” said Jerome Roux, President, Sales & Marketing, STMicroelectronics. “Aerospace is a highly demanding market with specific requirements. Cooperating with Airbus, a global leader in this industry, gives us the opportunity to define together new power technologies the industry needs to realise its decarbonisation goals.”

Aircrafts emit huge amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and are major pollutants. To decrease the air pollution, Aircraft engine designers are preferring to go for hybrid engines having both gasoline propulsion engines and electric propulsion. Hybrid-electric propulsion can bring down CO2 emissions by up to 5%. In case of helicopters it is as high as 10%.

ST says "Future hybrid and full electric aircraft require megawatts of power to operate. This implies huge improvements in power electronics in terms of integration, performance, efficiency, and component size and weight."

To know more about Airbus hybridisation roadmap visit: