Superconductivity, a cool technology to make airplanes more efficient and lightweight

Future aircraft will need to change their energy supply and dramatically reduce their weight. Power distribution systems are the backbone of aircraft but also amongst its heaviest piece. To increase their efficiency and reduce their weight, superconducting technologies have been proposed.

Superconductivity is when, at very low critical temperature, some materials have no electrical resistance and therefore no power loss.

Applied to aircraft distribution systems, superconductivity would highly reduce their weight and enable aircraft to carry electric- or hybrid-electric propulsion system. Doing so could help the prospect of cleaner, hybrid airplanes become a reality.

Superconducting magnet technology has fuelled some of the greatest discoveries in high-energy physics and, applied to aircraft distribution systems, superconductivity would drastically reduce their weight and increase their efficiency.

José Miguel Jimenez, Head of Technology department at CERN