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Patent
LaunchPoint Technologies, Inc. | Date: 2016-05-04

An axial flux brushless permanent magnet electrical machine having a stator and at least one rotor. The rotor includes a Halbach array of magnets with at least four magnets per magnetic cycle. The rotor magnets are contained within pockets in the rotor. The pockets are formed with magnet pocket walls being radial walls, active surface walls, and/or inactive surface walls where the walls retain the magnets within the pockets.


Patent
LaunchPoint Technologies, Inc. | Date: 2016-05-02

A lightweight and efficient electrical machine element including a method of manufacture providing a stator winding for an electric machine which has a large portion of its volume containing electrically conductive strands and a small portion of its volume containing of an encapsulant material. The stator winding includes winding of a first phase by shaping a portion of a bundle of conductive strands into an overlapping, multi-layer arrangement. Winding of successive phases occurs with further bundles of conductor strands around the preceding phases constructed into similar overlapping, multi-layer arrangements. The multiple phases are impregnated with the encapsulant material using dies to press the bundles into a desired form while expelling excess encapsulant prior to the curing of the encapsulant material. The encapsulated winding is removed from the dies after the encapsulant has cured. The encapsulant coating on the strands may be activated using either heat or solvent. The stator winding may be pressed into a form which has cooling channels which increase the surface area, thus enhancing convective cooling, heat dissipation, and the electrical machines efficiency.


Patent
LaunchPoint Technologies, Inc. | Date: 2014-12-01

An electromagnetic valve apparatus with nonlinear springs for variable valve timing in an internal combustion engine. The apparatus includes a valve, floating spring assembly, translational cam, and motor. The cam and spring serve to minimize lash and valve stem bending forces. During opening and closing of the valve, spring potential energy is converted into valve kinetic energy and then back into potential energy at the end of the motion. The potential energy is then available for the next opening/closing event. The motor initiates motion, replaces friction and vibration losses, and terminates motion. However, the motor supplies minimal energy as the valve opens and closes, and vice-versa, naturally due to combined effects of system inertia and the nonlinear spring. In addition to valve control, the apparatus may be applied to fuel injectors, or any reciprocating linear or rotary mechanism where electronic control is used.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 79.31K | Year: 2014

LaunchPoint Technologies proposes to adapt their patented electromagnetic valve actuator (EVA) to the C12 engine in the MTVR cargo vehicle. The actuator will allow the implementation of variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation functionality on the engine, which will result in increased engine efficiency at variable and part-loads; as well as increased maximum torque and power output. In phase I LaunchPoint Technologies will simulate engine performance to determine achievable efficiency and power gains. LaunchPoint will also do preliminary designs of actuators designed specifically for the C12 application along with the power and control system. LaunchPoint Technologies will analyze the resulting system performance. LaunchPoint Technologies"patented EVA can achieve more precise control and lower valve seating velocities than the competitors while remaining cost effective to implement in a commercial application. The actuator also achieves high switching speeds while minimizing electrical power consumed.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.96K | Year: 2014

The advancement of hybrid-electric propulsion systems for rotorcraft enables vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles to take advantage of aerodynamic efficiencies that can reduce fuel consumption and emissions compared to conventional rotorcraft vehicles. Unlike conventional internal combustion engines or high speed turbine engines, the high power-to-weight ratio and energy efficiency of electric motors is conserved when the motor is scaled to a smaller size. A distributed electric propulsion system for a VTOL aircraft can exploit aerodynamic benefits increasing the lift to drag ratio by 4 to 5 times (Fredericks et al, Intl Powered Lift Conf., Aug 2013) compared to that of convectional helicopters. This can yield a 4x increase in range while maintaining the VTOL and hover capabilities of a conventional helicopter. Using LaunchPoint Technologies' brushless electric motor optimization software, controller expertise, and battery technology, LaunchPoint proposes to design a hybrid propulsion system for a VTOL aircraft that has an extremely high power-to-weight ratio, to demonstrate the validity of a concept VTOL vehicle. LaunchPoint Technologies will seek robust system solutions for this hybrid electric propulsion including specifications for motor (propeller) distribution, motor power, lift, drag, a heavy-fuel combustion engine, alternator, battery pack, vehicle range and hover duration. LaunchPoint will then produce a detailed design of the Auxiliary Power Unit (combustion engine and alternator), motors, electrical systems, and power control systems for the aircraft. LaunchPoint will also further develop their dual-Halbach array brushless motor technology by building and testing a carbon fiber composite rotor to increase the specific power density of this propulsion system.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 149.60K | Year: 2013

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will prove the feasibility of a high reliability motor drive optimized for lightweight propulsion systems for electric aircraft. The NASA green flight challenge proved the viability of electric flight with a 400 passenger mile per gallon pure electric flight last year, but products specific to this market are not yet available. Presently available motor drives limit the reliability of electric propulsion system to unacceptably low levels. These drives are designed for ground vehicles and have reliability significantly less than general aviation planes. These drives also require heavy load inductors to interface with the highest power density electric motors. The novel drive architecture proposed will provide high reliability and operate directly with low inductance motors in the 10 kW to >250 kW range. Rigorous reliability analysis techniques from the commercial aviation industry will be applied to system models to optimize the architecture for reliability and power density. The design will be validated in hardware by fabricating and testing a single phase of the drive. This drive coupled with an advanced motor will form an electric aircraft propulsion system with the highest power density available and a reliability level consistent with aviation usage.


The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to address a developing market for propulsion systems that will enable non-polluting and reliable electric aviation in the small aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) sectors. UAV use is expanding rapidly. Many domestic applications of UAVs such as law enforcement or surveying could be served by electric UAVs. Congress has mandated that the FAA integrate UAVs into the airspace, but present UAVs do not have reliability levels consistent with use in the civilian airspace. General aviation is looking to electric flight as a way to reduce operating costs and greenhouse emissions in an age of ever increasing fuel prices and concern for the environment. The FAA is updating regulations to create a class of Electric Light Sport Aircraft (eLSA), but no commercially available motor drives meet general aviation reliability levels. This project will combine rigorous commercial aviation high reliability electronics design techniques with power electronics designs from heavy industry motor drives to create an electric aviation motor drive that is lightweight, fault tolerant, and highly reliable. The proposed drive will have reliability levels consistent with operation of electric aircraft in the civilian airspace while still retaining exceptional power density.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.91K | Year: 2015

Electric propulsion has the potential to revolutionize aircraft design and architecture. A distributed electric propulsion system for a VTOL aircraft can exploit aerodynamic benefits increasing the lift to drag ratio by 4 to 5 times (Fredericks et al, Intl Powered Lift Conf, Aug 2013) to that of conventional rotorcrafts. Basic physics principles can demonstrate that weight and efficiency optimized electric motors and propellers of the same power rating will rotate at different rpm making a transmission system/gearbox desirable. High speed electric motors have excellent specific power whereas low speed propellers are more efficient. In distributed propulsion systems there may be numerous individual propulsors making gearbox maintenance a significant effort that will detract from the potential cost savings of electric propulsion. We propose a magnetic transmission (magnetic gearbox) design that will allow optimal matching of high specific power electric motors to efficient propellers for use on electric or hybrid-electric air vehicles. The proposed magnetic transmission will have a mass of no more than an equivalent rated mechanical gearbox. Unlike conventional gears the magnetic transmission will have no lubrication requirements, gear tooth wear, will be immune to vibration fatigue in the gear teeth, and will have minimal acoustic noise. If overloaded the design will benignly "slip a tooth" and then re-engage. We propose to design, build and test a magnetic transmission optimized for specific torque, and compare the weight of the system to an optimal mechanical gearbox of the same power. We will also perform design studies to show how a magnetic gearbox could scale up to a helicopter main rotor gearbox.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.91K | Year: 2015

LaunchPoint Technologies proposes to build a scalable hybrid electric propulsion system. LaunchPoint will build and fly a 1 kW hybrid electric vehicle and will build and bench test a 6 kW hybrid power source to demonstrate scalability to much larger systems. During the phase I, LaunchPoint showed the feasibility of a manned hybrid electric VTOL vehicle that can achieve the speed and fuel efficiency of a high aspect fixed wing aircraft while still providing VTOL capability for a commuter-type application. Using Fly-By- Wire techniques and applying it to electric aircraft propulsion can lead to highly reliable architectures which we call "Propulsion-By-Wire", providing a tremendous increase in reliability and safety of the vehicle compared to conventional VTOL architectures. In this phase II we propose to develop the hybrid power source (Battery, BMS, Gen-set, and hybrid controller) portion of a "Propulsion-By-Wire" system for 2 power levels. LaunchPoint will build and fly a 1 kW hybrid electric vehicle that will meet notional airworthiness requirements for flight over people, and will scale the hybrid power source to 6kW proving the potential scalability of the system.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 499.94K | Year: 2015

LaunchPoint Technologies proposes to build and test a laboratory demonstration of a helicopter electric tail rotor drive for a Bell 206 helicopter. The drive system will consist of a generator attached to the gearbox output for the rail rotor drive shaft and a dual halbach array permanent magnet motor to directly drive the tail rotor propeller. Purpose built power electronics will convert the AC power from the generator to a DC bus and then convert back to variable frequency AC for the tail rotor motor.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.92K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT: LaunchPoint Technologies proposes to develop a motor drive (alternator controller) for hybrid and electric small unmanned aircraft that fills the gap between cheap flightweight remote control hobby products and full-featured but heavy industrial products. The motor drive system will be modular to allow the inclusion/exclusion of hardware features as-needed for a particular application to keep the system mass to an absolute minimum; and allow scalabilty to higher/lower power levels with common hardware. Power modules ranging from 500 W to 40 kW and up are envisioned. I/O modules will support a variety of feedback sensors and communications protocols. The processor module will have sufficient processing power for advanced Field Oriented sensorless Control algorithms. Processor modules with different popular microcontrollers and a dual-rendundant processor module are planned. The software will be open-source and reconfigurable with readily available (freeware) tools allowing researchers to fine tune the internal control loops and system behaviors to match their vehicles specific needs. The entire system will be developed with the ability to meet airworthiness requirements and be flight certified in the future as a part of LaunchPoint Technologies Propulsion By Wire hybrid-electric aircraft architecture. BENEFIT: The immediate commercial applications for the modular, configurable motor drive are researchers developing unique unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) who require customized motor drive configurations for high performance applications and new architectures that cant be met with existing hobby or industrial equipment. The modular nature of the proposed motor drive will lend itself to scalable development projects that start as small demonstrators and move up to large hybrid/electric aircraft. The proposed motor drive can also be configured as an alternator controller for hybrid-electric vehicles for which there are presently few off-the-shelf solutions available. As the small UAV market matures there will be a substantial commercial market for the proposed high quality motor drives designed with reliability and safety in mind. Future hybrid/electric UAVs for use over people and manned hybrid/electric aircraft will likely require flight certified motor drive hardware and software that will result from continued development of the modular motor drive proposed here.

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