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AIAA 2021-3021
Session: Hybrid Electric & Thermal Issues in Aircraft Design
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Electric aircraft propulsion relies on power transmission cables to carry energy through the vehicle's electrical power train. The mass of these cables is an important consideration in overall aircraft weight, and hence cable design methods that can offer lower weight cables offer a significant opportunity. This paper compares three strategies for cable design: selection of cables from off-the-shelf options, design based on steady-state thermal limits, and design based on transient thermal limits. The thermal models consider both conductor diameter and insulation thickness, as well as a comparison between multiple conductor materials. The thermal analysis evaluates the transfer of waste heat from the conductor to the insulation and from the insulation to the air via convection. Optimizations to minimize cable mass by changing conductor radius and material properties were performed using all three modeling approaches and the results show that both custom sized cables using both steady-state and transient based model offer potential mass savings.