Scottish start-up Mako Aerospace has teamed up with the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) to manufacture the world’s first all-electric jet engine, which could double the range of electric aircraft compared to current hybrid models.
Headed by University of Strathclyde graduates Kieran Duncan and Pia Saelen, the Dunfermline-based business is aiming to use a lighter and more efficient electric jet engine, called The Forerunner, to reduce fuel costs by 70% compared to a traditional turboprop.
Tapping into the potential of superconductors, NMIS engineers are involved in research exploring how the technology could play a significant role in achieving a fully-electrical commercial flight.
The team is supported by the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering and the Future Electrical Machines Manufacturing Hub, which is bringing together expertise in electrical machines and manufacturing.
The University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre, part of NMIS and the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult, is also introducing potential supply chain partners from across its network with a view to eventually manufacturing the engines in Scotland.
Supported by private equity funding, a prototype all-electric jet engine is currently in development. It will be showcased at a demonstrator day in October in Edinburgh, with Mako aiming to bring it to market with experimental certification within the next two years.
Dr Jill Miscandlon, senior manufacturing engineer at the NMIS, said: “We’re excited to be involved in this R&D project, collaborating with Mako and some of best minds within the areas of superconductors and electrical machines to demonstrate the vast potential of this technology and may even convince some of the bigger players in the industry to invest in the future of electric aircraft.
“The long-term goal of electric flight is the same for many within aerospace, but Mako is looking at more imminent solutions for short haul flights that we hope could act as a stepping stone to further developments in the field.”
Kieran Duncan, founder and chief executive of Mako Aerospace, said: “We’re looking forward to the demonstration day in October, which will be used as a springboard to launch further exciting projects towards bringing about sustainable aviation.”
Business Minister Ivan McKee added: “I congratulate Mako Aerospace on this global first for aviation.
“Advanced aerospace engineering can boost manufacturing’s contribution to cutting emissions and reaching net zero by 2045, creating a more sustainable economy as part of our National Strategy for Economic Transformation.”