Sizing of superconducting cables for turbo-electric distributed propulsion aircraft using a particle swarm optimization approach

Nolan, Steven and Jones, Catherine E. and Norman, Patrick J. and Burt, Graeme M. (2022) Sizing of superconducting cables for turbo-electric distributed propulsion aircraft using a particle swarm optimization approach. IEEE Transactions on Transportation Electrification, 8 (4). pp. 4789-4798. ISSN 2332-7782 (

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Superconducting electrical power systems are proposed to meet high specific power densities required for turbo-electric distributed propulsion aircraft. Superconducting materials have unique thermal and electrical requirements for maintaining the superconducting state, which is critical to their normal operation. Electrical system faults can lead to this state being lost for all network assets in the electrical fault path. The resulting temperature rise can prevent the superconducting state from being immediately resumed following fault clearance, requiring disconnection of nonfaulted equipment. Undersized cables experience a higher temperature rise under faulted conditions and disconnect from the system more readily. Oversized cables are heavier and more costly. Therefore, there is a need to optimize the cable size, preventing disconnection of equipment due to temperature rise following a fault while minimizing the weight and cost penalty. This article proposes a system parameter-driven methodology, using particle swarm optimization, to identify fault-tolerant cable designs, which deliver minimum through-life costs. This facilitates high-value, quantifiable design trade studies incorporating system parameters. Key observations drawn are that the choice between improving fault ride-through capability of a superconducting cable by increasing the amount of either superconducting material or conventional former material strongly depends on acceptable system operating temperature and voltage.


Nolan, Steven ORCID logoORCID:, Jones, Catherine E. ORCID logoORCID:, Norman, Patrick J. ORCID logoORCID: and Burt, Graeme M. ORCID logoORCID:;