As the automotive world is gradually shifting towards renewable energy in all its processes, the aerospace industry is trying to keep up the pace and embrace green technologies as well. On that note, these months, Rolls-Royce has been hard at work with testing what the company calls “the most powerful hybrid-electric aero power and propulsion system in aerospace.”
Developed as a powertrain for future regional aircraft, the propulsion system will be part of the 2.5 megawatt Power Generation System 1 (PGS1) demonstrator program. PGS1 took shape from another demonstration program developed with Airbus, which ended earlier this year when both parties agreed that there was no need to build an actual aircraft for a test flight.
Not wanting to drop the work on the project, Rolls-Royce has proceeded with PGS1 testing, guaranteeing that it can be incorporated into any future aircraft that needs a hybrid-electric propulsion system at megawatt scale.
Testing on the generator and power electronics of the propulsion system started nearly three weeks ago at the Rolls-Royce plant in Norway. The company has recently stated that the assessment has been finished and that the components have been transported to the newly-renovated Testbed 108 in Bristol, U.K. A team of engineers will bring the generator to the new testbed and start fully integrating PGS1.
“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.”, says Alan Newby, Director of Aerospace Technology and Future Programmes at Rolls-Royce.
The company has also announced that it has already tested the AE2100 engine element, specialist controls, and thermal management system. As for the whole finished system, there’s still no information about when that will happen, but Rolls-Royce is expecting its generator, in addition to the propulsion system, to be used as part of a “more-electric” system for larger aircraft or within future ground or marine applications. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see how things are progressing.