Semiconductor firm Microsemi Corp. announced this morning that it would participate in the multi-disciplinary Actuation 2015 consortium with the eventual goal of producing the underpinnings of an all-electric aircraft.
The group is specifically tasked with developing standardized Electro Mechanical Actuators, or EMAs for short, for the aerospace industry. EMAs allow manufacturers to eliminate hydraulic circuits, pumps and reservoirs, reducing the weight and cost of the aircraft as well as the number of parts that could fail.
It's a three-year effort funded by the European Union.
The group spans components manufacturers in 12 European nations and hopes to produce a set of standardized, modular, scalable parts for all types of actuators in all types of aircraft, from business jets to commercial airplanes to helicopters. Microsemi brings to the table its semiconductor expertise as well as prior research and development on a standardized power module at its facility near Bordeaux, France.
How does this play into an all-electric aircraft, you ask? Aerospace manufacturers are working to reduce the electricity consumption of everything in the aircraft that doesn't contribute to propulsion. By making the aircraft itself more efficient, there's more energy to go around when the aircraft migrates to an all-electric propulsion system.
Clearer skies, indeed.
Illustration: EADS' all-electric VoltAir concept aircraft. (EADS)