Aircraft

Roll-Royce's hybrid-electric propulsion system passes 1-MW milestone

Roll-Royce's hybrid-electric p...
Rolls-Royce's new generator is about the size of a beer keg
Rolls-Royce's new generator is about the size of a beer keg
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Rolls-Royce's new generator is about the size of a beer keg
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Rolls-Royce's new generator is about the size of a beer keg

With a view to providing clean powertrains for future aircraft, Roll-Royce is developing a 2.5-megawatt hybrid-electric propulsion system, billed as the most powerful of its kind. Engineers began putting it through its paces a few weeks ago, and are already celebrating a notable milestone, with the system delivering more than a megawatt of power for the first time.

Rolls-Royce's demonstrator Power Generation System 1 (PGS1) is designed as a versatile solution for next-generation aircraft, designed primarily with hybrid planes in mind but with a generator than can be adapted for those relying more heavily on electric systems. The PGS1 includes a thermal management system, purpose-made controls, a keg-sized generator and an AE2100 turbo-shaft engine to turn it.

Back in July, it was delivered to the recently renovated Testbed 108 facility in Bristol, UK, where engineers are now working toward the grand ambition of using it to deliver 2.5 megawatts. In a matter of weeks since testing began, the team has taken some impressive strides, now passing the one-megawatt milestone.

“We’ve made a tremendous start to testing – reaching a megawatt is a great achievement," says Adam Newman, Chief Project Engineer. "Now we want to go further and see what we can ultimately achieve. Our generator is about the size of a beer keg, yet it has already produced enough electricity to continuously power around 1,000 homes – that is really taking technology to new levels. When future hybrid-electric aircraft opportunities emerge in the megawatt and above class we want to be as prepared as we can be to offer a ready-made solution.”

Source: Rolls-Royce

8 comments
8 comments
martinwinlow
"Our generator is about the size of a beer keg, yet it has already produced enough electricity to continuously power around 1,000 homes"... Which means *what*, exactly, as far as powering a hybrid aircraft goes?!
Rocky Stefano
@martinwinlow - It means squat. Its marketing talk. Most people agree that 1MW powers between 4-900 homes depending on size and energy requirements. As far as planes go, an Airbus A320-sized single-aisle would need 2 kWh/kg so I think RR is overstepping their claims a little
Username
Adding to martinwinlow comment, and how much fuel did it require to do that?
TechGazer
The possible benefit of a hybrid system is that batteries can provide the high power for takeoff, while the fuel-burning can provide cruise power, which is much lower than peak power needed. Supercapacitors might be a better choice than batteries. One advantage for hybrid systems for automobiles was that the engine could be sized for cruise power, rather than having a huge engine mostly running in its inefficient range.
Ornery Johnson
All I learned from this story is that, apparently, beer kegs are five times bigger in England. A beer keg that big could fuel 1000 smiles/hour!
christopher
So they're building fossil-fuel aircraft which they can pretend are "good for the environment" because they made electricity with the fuel.

Never let reality get in the way of a public relations exercise eh?

We don't need any of the crap they're doing - they just need to throw away their antique designs, face that fact that they'll need to re-certify, and build something that's not horribly inefficient. For example: https://newatlas.com/aircraft/bullet-plane-otto-celera-500l/ - which requires only 12.5% of the energy that other crap-designed planes are using up.

Yes - you could make the same trip EIGHT TIMES in a well-designed plane, for the same energy used by a single trip in current designs - that's plenty enough savings to ditch the fuel entirely and just run on batteries.
ljaques
Why is RR reveling in reaching a mere 40% of their stated goal for this unit? And any hybrid fuel should, ideally, be H2 fuel cells, providing much longer range than batteries alone.
EH
This lacks nearly every important fact. What is the weight? What are the weights of the parts: generator, engine, power electronics? What is the min. specific fuel consumption in kg/kWh? How much power is it expected to produce at maximum efficiency? What kind of electrical output - volts, amps, AC, DC, frequency? When will it be available? How much will it cost? What is the expected total cost per hour at optimum fuel efficiency?