The Anonymous Widower

News Of The Day From Rolls-Royce

This press release from Rolls-Royce is entitled Rolls-Royce Advances Hybrid-Electric Flight With New Technology To Lead The Way In Advanced Air Mobility.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Rolls-Royce is officially announcing the development of turbogenerator technology, which includes a new small engine designed for hybrid-electric applications. The system will be an on-board power source with scalable power offerings and will complement the Rolls-Royce Electrical propulsion portfolio, enabling extended range on sustainable aviation fuels and later as it comes available through hydrogen combustion.

This paragraph outlines the use of the new small engine.

Current battery technology means all-electric propulsion will enable eVTOL and fixed wing commuter aircraft for short flights in and between cities and island-hopping in locations like Norway and the Scottish Isles. By developing turbogenerator technology, that will be scaled to serve a power range between 500 kW and 1200 kW, we can open up new longer routes that our electric battery powered aircraft can also support.

There is also a video in the press release, which gives more information.

  • The turbogenerator is compatible to their electric power and propulsion offering.
  • The turbogenerator has a power of 500-1200 kW to serve different aircraft platforms.
  • The system is modular and can be tailored to different applications.
  • The turbogenerator can either power the aircraft directly or charge the batteries.
  • The system can be configured to provide primary power for other applications.
  • Rolls-Royce are designing all the components; the turbogenerator, the gas turbine, the generator, the power electronics, so they all fit together in a compact and lightweight solution.
  • Rolls-Royce intend to manufacture all components themselves and not rely on bought-in modules.
  • Every gram of weight saved is important.

I suspect that one of the keys to making this all work is a very comprehensive and clever control system.

I have a few thoughts.

Weight Is Key

Rolls-Royce emphasise weight saving in the video. Obviously, this is important with any form of flying machine.

An Example System

Let’s suppose you want an electric power system to power a railway locomotive or one of those large mining trucks.

  • The locomotive or truck has an electric transmission.
  • Power of 2 MW is needed.
  • A battery is needed.
  • Fuel will be Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) or hydrogen.

A series hybrid-electric power unit will be created from available modules, which could be very fuel efficient.

What Will Rolls-Royce’s System Be Able to Power?

Although the system is aimed at the next generation of electric flying machines, these systems will be used in any application that wants an efficient zero- or low-carbon power source.

Consider.

  • Some large trucks have diesel engines with a power of almost 500 kW.
  • A Class 68 bi-mode locomotive has a 700 kW diesel engine.
  • A Class 802 train has three 700 kW diesel engines.
  • Rolls-Royce subsidiary MTU are a large supplier of diesel engines for rail, road and water.

It looks to me that Rolls-Royce have sized the system to hoover up applications and they have MTU’s experience to engineer the applications.

Class 43 Power Cars

The iconic Class 43 power cars running on UK railways are an interesting possibility for powering with Rolls-Royce’s new system.

  • Despite being over forty-years old, there are over a hundred and twenty still in service.
  • They were upgraded with new 1.7 MW MTU diesel engines in the early part of this century.
  • Rolls-Royce is based in Derby.
  • The Class 43 power cars were developed in Derby.
  • Hydrogen-powered Class 43 power cars, hauling GWR Castles or ScotRail Inter7Cities would be tourist attractions.
  • The Class 43 power cars need to be either decarbonised or replaced in the next few years.

Decarbonisation using Rolls-Royce’s new system would probably be more affordable.

This all sounds like a project designed in a pub in Derby, with large amounts of real ale involved.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened.

Will The System Be Upgradable From Sustainable Aviation Fuel To Hydrogen?

This is an except from the introductory paragraph.

The system will be an on-board power source with scalable power offerings and will complement the Rolls-Royce Electrical propulsion portfolio, enabling extended range on sustainable aviation fuels and later as it comes available through hydrogen combustion.

This would appear that if used in aviation, it will be possible to upgrade the system from sustainable aviation fuel to hydrogen, when a suitable hydrogen supply becomes available.

But all applications could be upgraded.

A truck, like the one shown in the picture could be delivered as one running on sustainable aviation fuel and converted to hydrogen later.

Conclusion

Rolls-Royce have put together a modular system, that will have lots of applications.

 

 

June 22, 2022 - Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , ,

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