(28/09/23) A new Rolls-Royce small gas turbine that has
been specifically developed to power hybrid-electric flight has
successfully completed its first fuel burn.
complete turbogenerator system is being developed for the Advanced
Air Mobility (AAM) market, including electrical vertical
take-off and landing (eVTOL) or electric short take-off and
landing (eSTOL) aircraft for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and commuter
aircraft applications with up to 19 seats.
The compact, power-dense gas turbine under test
also has potential applications within helicopter, auxiliary power
unit (APU) and defense markets.
Rolls-Royce small gas turbine
“The first fuel burn of our brand-new small gas
turbine is a significant leap forward with successful stages
throughout the test from light-up to the pull-away of the system,”
said Matheu Parr, Customer Director, Electrical. “This significant achievement follows the fast-paced
development time of the new gas turbine from concept freeze to
‘pass to test’ in under 2 years. The turbogenerator system will
enable our customers to extend the routes that electric flight can
support and means more passengers will be able to travel further
on low and potentially net zero emissions aircraft.”
turbogenerator system will complement Rolls-Royce’s electrical
propulsion portfolio by delivering an on-board power source with
scalable power offerings between 500 kW and 1,200 kW enabling
extended range on sustainable aviation fuel and later, as it
becomes available, through hydrogen combustion. This will open up
new, longer routes than electric battery powered aircraft can
facilities and equipment, comprising 14 subsystems in total, were
designed, procured and built – or adapted – by a global team in a
record time of just under a year. The test set-up comprises
commodity components such as valves and hoses, and bespoke
subsystems such as the fuel injection systems, oil and ventilation
systems, engine mount and water brake that were tailored to the
specific test requirements for this new technology.
first tests helped the team to generate real data to verify key technical attributes of the
design that will allow for design adaptations for the next set of
“With this achievement we have proven we can
apply our expertise to novel designs and are able to test them on
a very quick timescale. This capability will help Rolls-Royce to
deliver the products that will help us on our path to net zero
within the ambitious industry timelines of the Advanced Air
Mobility market,” Matheu added.
The turbogenerator can be used in serial
or parallel hybrid applications, and is well suited to recharge
batteries as well as provide energy to electrical propulsion units
directly, enabling aircraft to switch between power
sources in flight.
The research and development of this technology
is being partially funded by the German Ministry for Economic
Affairs and Climate Action.
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