Rolls-Royce begins testing new hybrid-electric propulsion system

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Rolls-Royce began testing the first elements, one of the most powerful hybrid-electric propulsion and propulsion systems in aerospace.

The tests are part of the 2.5 megawatt (MW) Power Generation System 1 (PGS1) demonstrator program for future regional aircraft.

Rolls-Royce has started testing the AE2100 drive element and specialized controls and thermal management system, supported by a system integration generator, at its 108 test bench in Bristol, UK.

Later this year, a fully operational generator and 3,000-volt power electronics, currently being tested at Rolls-Royce’s facilities in Trondheim, Norway, will be assembled to begin full testing of the PGS1 system. The generator can be used either for hybrid electric propulsion systems or as part of a “more electric” system for larger aircraft.

Alan Newby, Director of Aerospace Technology and Future Programs at Rolls-Royce, said: “This is an important milestone for all of us at Rolls-Royce. We are putting together a system that promises to be truly revolutionary in the world of aviation. We know that in a post-COVID19 world, people will want to connect but will do so in a more sustainable way. Electrification offers a new way to power short-haul aircraft and we want to be at the forefront of pioneering this technology.

“Our PGS1 tests will pave the way for finding out what this new generation of hybrid-electric propulsion system is capable of delivering. For example, our generator is about the size of a beer keg, but it needs to produce enough electricity to power about 2,500 homes and to do so continuously. By doing these tests, we will be able to validate our numerical modeling and discover precisely what is physically and technically possible.

Once tested on the ground, the PGS1 will then provide a technological basis for any future hybrid aircraft program requiring MW power.

Both the 108 test bench and the PGS1 were supported by the UK Aerospace Technology Institute’s MegaFlight project, while the design, manufacture and testing of the electric generator, engine and power electronics 2, 5 MW in Trondheim were supported by the European Clean Sky 2 program.

Testbed 108 has a history that relates to a number of iconic aircraft engines. They understand:

1960s / 1970s – Hercules and Centaurus engines that powered the Bristol Beaufighter, Bristol Brabazon and Hawker Sea Fury planes. Olympus engine that powered the Concorde supersonic jet and the Avro Vulcan.

1970s / 80s – Pegasus and RB199 engines, powering the Harrier and Tornado.

1990s – Gem and RTM322 which power the Lynx, Army Air Corps Apache and Royal Navy Merlin helicopters.

The test bench, which served as a warehouse from 2008, has been completely renovated to accommodate the hybrid-electric tests.

Check out the latest travel industry news, video interviews, podcasts and other news related to: COVID19, Rolls-Royce, Engines, Electric, Bristol.


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