CERN Accelerating science
Highlights 2023

A first step towards low-carbon aviation

Future aircraft will need to explore new energy sources and dramatically reduce their weight to reduce their carbon emissions and energy consumption. Power distribution systems are the backbone of aircraft but also amongst their heaviest pieces of equipment. Superconducting technologies have been proposed with a view to increasing the efficiency and reducing the weight of this complex system.

The Super-Conductors for Aviation with Low Emissions (SCALE) mock-up (Image: CERN)

In 2023, the collaboration between CERN and Airbus UpNext met its first milestone with the assembly of a superconducting power line demonstrator at CERN. This demonstrator, called SCALE (Super-Conductors for Aviation with Low Emissions), plays an important role in assessing how superconductivity can contribute to the decarbonisation of future aircraft. At the end of the year, the impressive equipment was successfully tested at CERN. The project combines CERN's expertise in superconducting technologies with the innovative aircraft design and manufacturing capabilities of Airbus.


Using superconducting materials would reduce the weight of an aircraft’s power line
by a factor of more than 10

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