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Nidec Takes Flight

Motor corp. will team up with Airbus for latest application

One of the world's largest motor makers is eyeing the skies for its latest bulk application.

Leroy-Somer, part of Nidec Group, has reached an agreement with Airbus to develop an electric motor for its hydrogen-powered fuel cell engine prototype, according to a February 3 press release from the company's Japanese corporate base.

The deal settles as part of Airbus’ "ambition to bring the first zero-emission commercial aircraft to market by 2035," according to the release. American OEMs and motor shop owners familiar with Nidec models will want to monitor this developing project.

Leroy-Somer, part of the Japanese Nidec Group since 2017, will reportedly design and develop a series of electric motor prototypes requiring a focus on "safety, reliability, energy-efficiency and lowest weight for the targeted power." Leroy-Somer's R&D team will also try to optimize the architecture of the aircraft propulsion system. Project management, design, engineering, and prototyping will all be done from its headquarters in Angouleme, France.

A "DYNEO+" model from Nidec Leroy-Somer (left, in black) here in use in a refrigeration application, will now reportedly be used in its aviation venture with Airbus.—Nidec photo

Prototypes, designed for performance and integration in Airbus’ zero-emission hydrogen powered fuel cell engine, will first be tested on ground using "dedicated test benches." Following the initial qualification and validation, a second phase of in-flight testing will be conducted.

“We are pleased to have been selected by Airbus to provide our expertise in high efficiency electric motors and contribute, through our innovative R&D teams and solutions, to this ambitious eco-friendly commercial aviation project. This important milestone for more sustainable mobility, presents several challenges that we are committed to overcome, to serve the global community” said Jean-Michel Condamin, President of the “Commercial & Industrial Motors” Division.

Nidec also cited energy concerns and environmental motivations as background of the new venture, which it believes its IE5 motor DYNEO+, used in many different industrial fields, can help address. The company has U.S. headquarters in Florissant, Missouri and still holds important relationships with a number of American OEMs, while motor shop owners are certainly familiar with the Nidec label, which includes the former U.S. Motors tag.

Eric Coupart, Chief Technology Officer of the Commercial & Industrial Motors Division, also added: “We are proud of this acknowledgement of our ability to cut energy bills & carbon emissions through tailor-made solutions, in one of the most severe environments. Our world-class R&D capabilities will bring to Airbus sustainable and powerful smart technologies with best-in-class energy efficiency for the near future of the Aviation”

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