Rolls-Royce puts 2.5-MW generator for future hybrid aircraft to the test
Rolls-Royce has delivered a 2.5-megawatt electrical generator to its newly-renovated Testbed 108 facility in Bristol, UK for final testing and integration into the world's most powerful hybrid-electric aerospace propulsion system.
Electric aircraft propulsion has made impressive strides over the past few years, but projects have tended to start small and work their way up in size. However, Siemens, Rolls-Royce, and Airbus took a different approach with their E-Fan X demonstrator program, which was completed earlier this year and was developing a large regional aircraft powered by a hybrid system that uses an AE2100 turbo-shaft engine to turn a generator that supplies electricity to a set of electric fan motors.
Key to this was the generator for the new 2.5-MW Power Generation System 1 (PGS1) that recently completed development testing in Trondheim, Norway before being shipped to Bristol, where testing has been carried out on the engine, controls, and the thermal management system on Testbed 108.
The goal is not only to produce greener aircraft, but also ones that are lighter, less complex, cheaper to maintain, and more suitable for computer control. In addition to being part of a hybrid propulsion system, the PGS1 can also be used in aircraft that rely more on electric systems, as well as in ground and marine applications.
"We are excited to bring the generator to our new testbed and start fully integrating PGS1," says Adam Newman, Chief Design Engineer, Aviation Futures, Rolls-Royce. "This is a key milestone in the program, bringing together the work of teams in the UK and Norway who have worked so hard to get us to this point. It is a great privilege to be involved in such important work – developing innovative electrical power systems is part of our sustainability strategy for the future.
"Our generator is about the size of a beer keg but it needs to produce enough electricity to continuously power around 2,500 homes – that is breaking new ground in terms of what is physically possible. On completion of testing, we will have a basis for megawatt-level power for future hybrid aircraft."