Boeing Turns To Japan Inc. For Electric Flight


がんばってボーイング! (Do your best, Boeing!)

Are you ready to fly the electric skies? Boeing isn’t. But, to be fair, neither is any other mainstream aircraft manufacturer. Electric airplanes are on the company’s agenda, however, and it is now looking to Japan for some of the technology it needs to make fossil fuel-free flight a reality.

According to Nikkei Asian Review, the arrangement involves a partnership between the U.S. company and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). Through this relationship, Boeing will get access to “electronics and precision-equipment makers” in may need to develop the new technology. Already, though, certain Japanese companies have been targeted for cooperation.

Electric airplanes will need batteries, so the aircraft maker will work with GS Yuasa to develop cells suitable for the rigors of flying. (This is an area Boeing has needed help in the past.) The craft will also need motors. While the report names Sinfonia Technology and Tamagawa Seiki as outfits that will help with small motors, it seems like superconducting motor technology is being considered for the main motivators. Those will be developed with help from Kyushu University and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

To meet the challenges of battery-powered flight, lighter weight fuselages are in order. It makes sense, then, that Boeing will work with the world’s leading supplier of carbon fiber, Toray Industries, to develop a more affordable product suitable for mass production.

To bring everything together, Mitsubishi Heavy, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and Subaru have all been lined up to aid in the manufacturing processes.

No timeline for the first fruit of the collaboration was given, but we imagine it will take years before we see electric aircraft of significant size from the manufacturer. Its European rival, Airbus, is also developing electric airplanes of its own with help from Rolls Royce.

Source: Nikkei Asian Review

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55 Comments on "Boeing Turns To Japan Inc. For Electric Flight"

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So GS Yuasa’s next generation lithium sulfur batteries are, in fact, panning out?

3x energy density is nothing to sneeze at. This would be what? The story of the decade, …… the century?

From 2014:

Yuasa is the company that made the smoking batteries for Boeing.

Shit (just to get the attention of the censors), where’s that report button? Do we allow racism now?

Wow. Pure racism.

They would be better off partnering with Tesla.

Better off parterning with SpaceX. SpaceX has all the aerospace experience but there’s alot of animosity between Boeing and SpaceX.

Why is that?

The answer is always Tesla.

Them being competitors and SpaceX under cutting their pricing by 50%+ and the trash talking about ULA getting paid not to launch (standby capability)…

The irony here is you’ll be able to get on an Electric Plane with Japanese Engineering BEFORE you can buy a Japanese Electric Car from Honda or Toyota.

Nope. Japan has interesting work going on. My old roommate’s dad worked for MITI developing cermacic blades for turbines, and that was in the 80s. They are bright, innovative, and industrious.
NASA would actually be Boeing’s better bet, but MITI is probably #2.

Boeing in Japan, tonight
Boeing in Japan, be tight
Boeing in Japan, ooh the eastern sea’s so blue~

I feel bad for all the readers who have no idea what you’ve done here. That was superb!

The first EPs will be powered by Hydrogen, not heavy batteries…that’s why Japan…they are the strongest supporters of Hydrogen driven electric motors…still must develop jet engines that run on H2 for takeoff and climb out power. The hydrogen airliner will use hydrogen powered jets to takeoff and hydrogen fuel cell driven electric motors for cruising.

This is a fantasy — no one is going to pay $16 for a kg of H2 when they can buy Jet A for $5/gallon. Furthermore, Jet A doesn’t require a heavy fiber wrapped pressure vessel for storage, and how many pounds of PEM fuel cell will be required to produce 10,000 lbs of thrust?

JetA will drop as BN switches to LNG, combined with EVs semis.

Hydrogen has 3.5 times the energy density (by kg) of Jet A, though. And 16$ is probably too much. In germany you get H2 for 9,50 €/kg (a little over 11$). So you get the same amount of energy for about double the price but with improving fuel-cell technology you also have a higher energy efficiency in fuel cells. And it’s more silent than traditional jets.

LMAO, Keep dreaming troll.

Imagine taking to the skies with a plane filled with thousands of pounds of compressed hydrogen, now there is an adventure!

Oh the humanity. I’m sure Manchester Township, New Jersey will be the first to sign up for the new hydrogen power aircraft.

I seriously doubt that I will ever see a plane the size and capacity and payload similar to Boeing 787 or 747 that are completely powered by battery in my life time.

The energy density required for that to happen is just too great.

Boeing announced a while back that they had plans for a smaller hybrid-electric ommuter aircraft.

It would make substantially more sense to try something like LNG made from renewable gas or perhaps from synthetic fuels such as Audi’s e-fuels. Liquid fuels can literally be made out of thin air. Look up e-gas, e-gasoline, and e-diesel. Effectively any hydrocarbon you like can be made this way.

Any carbon based fuel is just adding to the world’s problems (and don’t even get me started on the “carbon neutral” charade).

Don’t age out too quickly, stick around for a little bit longer, when winged efficiency and EVs merge, the sky’s the limit.


Solar panels? Sunny at 35000 feet.

Electric planes can easily cruise at 50-60,000 ft. where there is substantially less air resistance. Don’t need air for combustion.

climbing to that altitude alone will take too much energy.

At 60000ft, Concord was burning 4800 gallons of fuel per hour. and 17 mpg on average.
a 737’s efficiency is 80 mpg at 30000 ft.

At 60000 ft, you also have to travel 2x as far compared to 30000 ft.

“At 60000 ft, you also have to travel 2x as far compared to 30000 ft.”

Say what?!

circle with 2x radius has 2x circumference.

True. But 60k’ above surface is not even double from surface, let alone 30k.

[Facepalm] I thought the flat Earthers were crazy, but you just proposed an Earth with zero radius! Altitudes are measured above the ground, not above the centre of the Earth.

Please tell me you aren’t serious.

He does not understand that radius is from center of earth.

Less air = less lift, so bigger wings… more fuel to get there but sure, less to cruise. Check out:

Sure, if you don’t mind flying at about 100 km/h…

There is no way the battery can provide enough power for passenger planes to fly half way from LA to NYC.

Yes. Some basic facts. Jet fuel (same as diesel, kerosene, fuel oil) has 12 to 13 kWh of thermal energy per kg. A modern Tesla battery pack is about 0.15 kwh per kg. The thermal effeciency of a modern gas terbine is about 40% vs about 80% (including charging and discharging losses) for a battery/electric motor system. So, even taking into account the higher effeciency of using an electric motor to drive a propeller or ducted fan, jet fuel has about 40 times the net effective energy density of a state of the art battery system.

If and when electricity becomes part of the propulsion system of aircraft bigger than light sport aircraft, it will be on short range planes and will take the form of some kind of hybrid system. Mass hurts a ground vehicle’s performance; mass KILLS an airplane’s performance.

When you imagine an electric passenger plane, don’t think of a 747, think of a short range version of the Cessna 208 Caravan that carries about ten people. A small electric plane that could make the short hop from Boston to NYC or NYC to DC is probably the first commercial product.

Speaking of bad ideas for propulsion of an airplane. Behold nuclear powered aircraft.

Went on for years and several iterations. Even had a big ole meltdown. Note the comment in the bibliography of this report.

Quote from Page 88 (reference).
“Summary Report of HTRE No. 3 Nuclear Excursion”. APEX-509. General Electric Co.,
Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Dept., Cincinnati, Ohio. [no date] 148p.
A power excursion and fuel element meltdown in the HTRE No. 3 prototype aircraft power
plant are discussed. The cause of the power excursion, safety actions, and the mechanism
of reactor shutdown are considered.

However, I’ve always thought that we need to develop small reactors for travel, esp if we are going to the moon/mars. Something like .5MW, but small PKG would be ideal.

That was only because of the tornado. In Texas, of all places. Can’t beat the energy density of nuclear power. Even a Radio Isotope Thermal Electric Generator would be a consideration. I suspect that a well-shielded atomic nacelle (perhaps on the tail) would not produce significant passenger radiation. And, in a crash, it would be a lot safer to the passengers than a bunch of acid batteries of many, many gallons of jet fuel.

It seems a hybrid approach could be a likely path before full electric propulsion. Perhaps smaller conventional jet engines coupled with electric motors could work for takeoff, then electric power takes over during cruise. Or some combination thereof. Or a return to four-engine aircraft… two electric motors and two jets, albeit much smaller in size to limit weight. I’m sure the planners have considered many options.

The hybrid approach would be for electric motors for thrust, and a battery pack. During cruise, and turbine would recharge the batteries

Yep, makes sense.

Except that the stratosphere is a terrible place to exhaust CO2

And yet, if it can cut the CO2 in half from where it is today, then it is a good design.

Not really new. Boeing has been working with these same suppliers for along time on various products and projects. You do know the 787 is 50% carbon fiber by weight. Composite fuselage and wings.


The entire skin of the airplane can be made a giant photovoltaic panel that is almost always in the sun (during daylight flight) and feeding directly to the batteries or engines… It’s a great idea as it would encourage day flights and discourage the dreaded red eyes.

What do you think about biofuels?. CO2 neutral and big energy density by kg. Easy to transport, without big new technical requirements. And will be a good alternative for farming industry even in 3rd world.

Well, have you ever tried to estimate how many liters required JUST for one NYC-Paris flight?
and how much land would be required?
Now how many such flights do we have every single day? (remember the crops don’t grow in one day…)
Then you quickly realise this is just… impossible!
And there is also this “CO2 neutral” rethoric which is very questionnable in the context of “farming industry”. Pesticides, fertilizers, tractors… are all important sources of CO2 in industrial farming.

We don’t need crops in one day, the transition may be softer along years, even decades. We can extend the oil reserves if we mix aviation fuel with other products, in more proportion as the years pass and we will be able to produce more and better biofuel. And you can produce it with algaes, bacterias…. not only crops. About CO2, well, at that point maybe we should think about other issues like meat overconsumption and the ammount of cattle that produce metane, much worst than CO2 (and all the food they eat needs pesticides, tractors…). We must live and life is a risk itself. The key is how to live as best as possible avoiding most of problems now and for the future. We are the generation (or our children), that probably will see the end of petrol so energy will be the main problem for humanity. In the future, other tech and science improvementes will fix the problems we can’t solve today, we have time only to find solutions for the most important. Battery planes, are probably not possible in decades. What’s the solution while a real tech alternative is found?. Keep using kerosene and converting the carbon… Read more »

Electric doesn’t seem viable for long haul flights, while Boeing et al. give hydrogen another look?