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Electrification of mobility takes off

One cutting edge example comes from a collaborative project between Airbus Industries, Rolls-Royce and Siemens. This is with the development of a hybrid electric propulsion technology intended for future commercial airplanes.

There are several drivers for the development including managing costs, increasing range and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. These add up to the gas turbine engine becoming the latest target for disruption.

With the environmental factors the aim is to meet the European Commission’s Flightpath 2050 Vision for Aviation goals towards sustainable transports. These are: a reduction of carbon dioxide by 75 percent; a reduction of nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide by 90 percent; and reducing and noise by 65 percent.

According to E-Design Europe, the three companies reviled some of their plans at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London at the end of November 2017. The plans included details on the expert team that has put together to develop the design. As part of the collaboration, Siemens will provide the electric motors and their power electronic control unit. Rolls Royce provide the core engine and Airbus Industries the test aircraft.

The hybrid-electric technology demonstrator is called the E-Fan X. The engine is scheduled to make its maiden flight in 2020, integrated into a BAe 146 short-haul airliner. Within the four-engine aircraft, one of the gas turbines will be replaced by a two-megawatt electric motor (a R-R AE2100 turboprop engine).

In terms of housing, some two tons of batteries will be installed in the forward cargo hold, while electronic equipment for the power supply, distribution and control system will be located in the cabin

The replacement is initially for test purposes, Leeham News reports. Later on, there is a plan to replace a second gas turbine with the electric system. With the test, the three companies are aiming to see how effective of high-power propulsion systems are. Key performance indicators will include thermal effects, electric thrust management, altitude and dynamic effects on electric systems. Also measured will be electromagnetic compatibility.

If the tests are successful, the trio of companies is hopeful that progress towards hybrid electric technology will be rapid.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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