A two-year-old partnership that Phoenix-based Honeywell Aerospace entered with Japanese company Denso Corp. is yielding fruit in the form of a tiny electric motor the two companies are developing for a jet being built by another aerospace company, Lilium.
Based in Germany, Lilium is working to develop the first all-electric vertical takeoff and landing jet for use in urban centers as part of regional transportation systems, and the Honeywell-Denso partnership is part of that effort.
Honeywell (Nasdaq: HON) and Denso have already been working on the project for nearly two years after signing an alliance agreement in 2019 to design, develop, produce and sell electric propulsion system products for aircraft. Lilium has also been part of the development process during that time.
During their collaboration, the two companies have come up with the prototype of an approximately 4-kilogram motor that has an output of 100 kilowatts. It consists of a rotor and stator that have been built small and light to meet Lilium’s goals.
It is expected to have none of the operating emissions associated with commercial jet engines, Lilium said, and it will operate with an air-cooled design that is easier to maintain and saves operating costs over traditional liquid cooling systems.
Also, the rotor-stator combination has a centrifugal configuration, which Lilium said lowers its weight, manufacturing costs and susceptibility to damage from foreign objects.
Stéphane Fymat, Honeywell Aerospace vice president and general manager of urban air mobility, said the project will help usher in the age of electric flight.
“Lilium’s innovation, combined with our experience in aerospace, will help to bring about cleaner, more sustainable ways for people to travel for centuries to come,” Fymat said in a statement.
For Denso, known as an automotive supplier, the partnership takes the company toward a new horizon.
“The e-motor co-development solidifies Denso’s successful entry into the aerospace industry, giving us the opportunity to increase vehicle electrification not only on land, but also in the sky,” Jiro Ebihara, Denso’s senior executive office rand head of its Electrification Systems Business Group, said in a statement. “This supports our efforts to create a more efficient and sustainable future.”
Lilium has also been working with Honeywell since 2021 on its integrated flight deck and flight control computers. Honeywell’s system will be responsible for controlling the jet’s moveable parts, including the 36 control surfaces and ducted fans that provide its maneuverability in each stage of flight.
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