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ASCEND Program: Advancing Electric Propulsion Innovation

Advancing The Frontiers Of Electric Propulsion

Introducing ASCEND: Honeywell's collaborative endeavor with ARPA-E and the University of Maryland, shaping the future of aviation with cutting-edge electric propulsion technology. Through pioneering innovation and strategic partnerships, ASCEND is revolutionizing sustainable transportation, driving towards a cleaner, greener tomorrow in aerospace. Stay tuned for insights into our groundbreaking advancements and the transformative impact of ASCEND on the aerospace industry.

Honeywell Aerospace Technologies has long been at the forefront of electric propulsion innovation, continuously pushing boundaries in sustainable transportation. Through groundbreaking collaborations with industry leaders like DENSO and visionary projects such as our 1-MW Generator for the Flying Whales airship, Honeywell demonstrates an unwavering commitment to pioneering solutions. Among our most ambitious initiatives is the ARPA-E ASCEND program, a collaborative effort with the University of Maryland aimed at designing, developing, and showcasing a high-power density Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS).

Pioneering Sustainability

Initiatives like ASCEND underscore Honeywell Aerospace Technologies' dedication to advancing electric propulsion and actively contributing to global efforts towards carbon neutrality and sustainable aviation. Our pursuit of excellence is reflected in the integration of cutting-edge technologies like Standard-Edge-Wound (SEW) Windings, High Temp Insulation (HTI), and Air-Cooled Thermal Management Systems (TMS) into our propulsion systems.

Innovative Technology

The ASCEND AEPS program integrates state-of-the-art technologies to boost performance and efficiency for next-generation aircraft. This includes SEW Windings to minimize thermal impedance, HTI to elevate operating temperature capacity, and an Air-Cooled TMS to enhance heat transfer. Furthermore, the incorporation of High Voltage Power Electronics and Composite Material Selections further amplifies power density and efficiency, positioning ASCEND as a trailblazer in electric propulsion technology.

Technological Approach

ASCEND's technological strategy is defined by its innovative design elements to maximize power density and fault tolerance. The electric motor boasts a multi-pole/multi-slot Halbach array, Advanced HTI, and a Composite rotor structure. Meanwhile, the Power Electronics (Motor Drive) leverage high voltage, high-power SiC-based, multi-phase, multi-level inverters with an architecture engineered for corona and partial discharge compliance. The Air-Cooled Thermal Management System utilizes a manifold mini-channel heat exchanger system for optimal cooling.

Strategic Advantages

ASCEND offers strategic benefits that extend beyond individual projects. By championing Sustainability and Electrification Megatrends, ASCEND accelerates carbon neutrality through Zero-E propulsion and unlocks new propulsion segments for commuter and transport aircraft. Moreover, the technology cultivated under ASCEND finds applications across various divisions within Honeywell, fostering synergies across Engines & Power Systems (E&PS) and Advanced Electromechanical Solutions (AES).

Power Requirements and Performance Objectives

ASCEND's power requirements have been selected to meet the evolving demands of the aerospace industry. By anticipating the shift to Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), ASCEND Motors hold potential applicability across a broad spectrum of aircraft concepts. Performance targets, including motor peak and continuous power, input voltage, system power density, and motor drive efficiency underscore ASCEND's dedication to delivering high-performance, efficient, and eco-conscious propulsion solutions.

In summary, the ASCEND program marks a significant stride towards a cleaner, greener future in aviation. With its pioneering technology, strategic advantages, and steadfast commitment to sustainability, ASCEND stands poised to revolutionize the aerospace landscape and chart a course towards a more sustainable tomorrow.


At our core, we are driven by a relentless pursuit of innovation and sustainability in the aerospace industry. As pioneers in electric propulsion, our efforts are propelled by a strong partnership with the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), U.S. Department of Energy, with 80% of our funding stemming from this vital collaboration. This significant support enables us to push the boundaries of what's possible, driving forward groundbreaking advancements in electric propulsion systems. We are proud to be at the forefront of this transformative journey towards a cleaner, greener future in aviation. Our commitment to transparency and accountability is reflected in our adherence to contractual agreements, including the clause about publications outlined in our contract with ARPA-E. As such, we extend our sincere gratitude to ARPA-E for their unwavering support and partnership in our mission to revolutionize the aerospace industry.

The information, data, or work presented herein was funded in part by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), U.S. Department of Energy, under Award Number DE-AR0001354. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.

Want to learn more about ASCEND? Visit us at the ARPA-e Energy Innovation Summit, May 22-24, 2024, in Dallas, TX.

Vanessa Shapiro
Global Director of Marketing, Defense and Space

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