Grounding topologies for resilient, integrated composite electrical power systems for future aircraft applications

Jones, Catherine E. and Sztykiel, Michal and Peña-Alzola, Rafael and Norman, Patrick J. and Burt, Graeme M. (2019) Grounding topologies for resilient, integrated composite electrical power systems for future aircraft applications. In: AIAA/IEEE Electric aircraft technologies Symposium, 2019-08-22 - 2019-08-24, JW Marriott Hotel.

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    Abstract

    The upwards trend for the use of electrical power on state of the art more-electric aircraft (MEA) has resulted in a significant changes to the electrical power system (EPS) for these platforms due to increased use of DC, higher voltage and power levels, and decentralized architectures. A dual trend is the increasing use of carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) for aircraft structures, due to the superior mechanical properties of CFRP compared to metallic structures. However, the poorer electrical conductivity of CFRP results in the aircraft structure no longer being fully integrated with the electrical power system. There is a need to integrate these two systems to fully maximize the performance benefits of CFRP, and optimize the weight and volume of the electrical power system. A first step in this integration is to identify an appropriate fault management strategy, which enables the detection of higher resistance ground faults through CFRP. This includes the consideration of appropriate grounding topologies. This paper proposes the implementation of a high resistance grounding topology, which enables the detection and location of a fault via spectral analysis of the voltage across the grounding resistor. From this, implications for wider EPS and CFRP designs to enable the reduction in the use of bulky cable harnesses, providing the first step to CFRP becoming an integral part of the EPS, are discussed.