Aerospace & defenseJuly 20, 2023

Air travel, minus the pollution

One French start-up is innovating air travel with electric engines able to reduce carbon emissions without sacrificing speed.
Avatar Shoshana Kranish

More than 100 years ago, man took flight for the first time. Since then, the world has changed drastically. As a society, we’ve done all we can to fly farther and faster. We’ve connected ideas and innovations, exchanged goods, transported people and enabled exploration. And now, one start-up is aiming to do all that while saving the planet, adding sustainability to the airline industry.

Sylphaero, a start-up in the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab accelerator, is tackling the issue of carbon emissions from planes. Their solution lies in electrifying jet engines to create plasma, which can power an aircraft at high speed and with a high degree of reliability. By removing the need to burn fuel, the company aims to decrease the pollution caused by the airline industry, which currently emits an estimated 1 billion tons of CO2 annually.

Air transport is a necessary part of society, so solutions that aim to make it less pollutive are highly prized innovations. And while prototypes for new designs often require doing away with existing new models and replacing them with sustainable alternatives, Sylphaero isn’t taking that approach. Doing so would create unnecessary waste when entire product lines, large or small, would need to be tossed out. Sylphaero’s electric engines can be retrofitted for existing aircraft, making them an attractive, eco-friendly and accessible option.

But the engines aren’t just a green alternative: they’re an incredibly powerful and highly reliable innovation. They solve the issue that typical electric aircraft suffer from, which is that they’re limited by power density and, consequently, speed. While traditional planes travel at speeds up to 700 mph, electric engines don’t get much past 400 mph. While they’re friendlier to the environment, they’re still not an attractive option because of this factor. Noting this, Sylphaero’s founders were inspired to create an electric engine that could fly fast, and that’s precisely what they’re developing.

Using electricity to generate heat, Sylphaero’s engine enables lightning quick travel without emitting CO2. Well, maybe not lightning quick, but their engines will be capable of flying at high subsonic, and even super and hypersonic speeds.

Designing an engine so powerful requires a highly adaptable toolkit, and Sylphaero has found that in both CATIA and SIMULIA. The startup is using former to design turbomachinery and test their 3D model prototypes, and the latter to ensure structural fluid dynamics like plasma are validated. By innovating with the use of a virtual twin, they’re able to design planes that will take humanity into the future with fewer and fewer carbon emissions.

Sylphaero joins a consortium of companies investing in creating innovative solutions to make the necessities of the world today more sustainable.

Read more about start-ups in the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab doing similar work:

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