Significant Global pressure for Aviation to reduce Carbon Emissions
ePropulsion holds great potential, so far with only regional stage lengths
Rolls-Royce acquires Siemens’ electrical engine expertise
There is tremendous pressure, globally, on aviation to reduce the carbon emissions. This pollution is the product of the powerful turbines generating the thrust needed to fly large aircraft high and fast.
One of the potential substitutes for fossil-fueled jet powerplants may be electric engines. Eviation, an Israeli company, has introduced a nine seat regional aircraft called the Alice. With a Li-lon – 900 kWh battery, it can generate 240 knots and a 650 mile range.
The battery limits the payload and range; so, more is needed to have electric power to fly larger aircraft.
Henry Royce started making engines in 1884 and after he joined with Charles Royce, whose expertise was cars, they began making the world class automobile. In the early days of WW I, Royce used his engineering talents to design and manufacture powerplants; the RR Eagle engine powered half of the Allies’ aviation (1914). As Sir Francis Whittle invented the gas turbine engine, RR entered the field and has played a major role ever since.
The drive toward electric propulsion caused RR to look at the companies with proven competence and Siemens, an 1847 German company, qualified. Its two-seat Extra 330LE aerobatic plane took off in 2014 on its maiden flight, a record setting flight. The aircraft demonstrated Siemens’ newly designed SP260D motor, which delivers an impressive 340 hp (260 kW) while weighing only 110 lbs. (50 kg).
Siemens’ significant work in electric and hybrid-electric propulsion development began to take shape several years ago under the direction of Dr. Frank Anton, in locations in Germany and Hungary. Its hybrid aircraft, the Magnus eFusion first flew on April 11, 2018, equipped with a SP55D engine and a FlyEco diesel engine.
Rolls-Royce had made forays of its own into the electrification of aircraft, with “successful ground tests” of a hybrid propulsion system suitable for use across a range of platforms, including EVTOLs (hybrid electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft). The system uses a Rolls-Royce M250 gas turbine engine to charge a set of onboard batteries, utilizing a turbo-generator.
The two companies had previously collaborated on the E-Fan demonstrator, another hybrid-electric propulsion project
The Siemens acquisition announced at the Paris Air Show, decided to shift to more environmentally sustainable aviation transportation. It was buying Siemens’s electric and hybrid-electric aerospace propulsion “eAircraft” business.
The next announcement was RR expectation that it would be supporting an eBusiness jet with range requirements beyond Alice.
The RR move is likely to trigger more visible actions by GE, P&W, MTU and others occupying the aircraft powerplant segment. Perhaps the next major movement will come from some entrepreneurial organization with compelling innovation.
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