8 July 2016
PRODRIVE TO DEVELOP HYBRID ENGINE FOR FARADAIR AIRCRAFT
To help reduce carbon emissions and noise pollution, Faradair is developing an innovative electric hybrid propulsion system for the general aviation sector. Hybraero is the name for this new engine venture and the first hybrid engine to be produced is called the ‘H600’.
Developed in joint venture with British motorsport and advanced technology specialists, Prodrive, it will incorporate a 300hp engine designed to run on JetA1 fuel and cleaner ‘biojet’ fuel where available, eradicating the need for expensive Avgas. The Hybraero H600 incorporates twin electric motors able to deliver an additional 300hp for up to 10 minutes of ‘electric-only’ flight time, whereupon the engine will take over and also recharge the battery, alternatively maximum take-off power could be 600hp in combined power mode.
A key feature of this new engine is the ability to switch propulsion source in the event of an emergency should either power source fail. This provides the pilot with the ability to find a safe landing area outside of glideslope range, curing a problem faced by all existing single engine pilots in the event of a stoppage.
“When we looked at the market and found relatively antiquated propulsion systems still being produced for general aviation, we saw an opportunity to create something new,” explains Neil Cloughley, Managing Director of Faradair® Aerospace Limited. “The Hybraero H600 hybrid engine fills the gap for a lightweight and powerful engine, with a better fuel burn rate and reduced noise and emissions capability, all bundled together into a package that could be fitted to any new aircraft or even retro- fitted to existing aircraft. However the backup safety feature of switchable power is one of the most exciting features”
This market-changing proposition will utilise additive manufacturing techniques (3D Printing) and the latest technologies available to deliver a 21st century propulsion system that combines an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) and electric motors to begin our transition to cleaner and quieter flight opportunity. The Hybraero H600 hybrid engine has been designed to be a direct replacement engine for existing six cylinder piston engines, sitting within the same footprint and mounting points, offering power levels equal to many Turboprops for a fraction of the costs.
“Electric aircraft development has been hitting the headlines recently however the biggest restriction to further take up is battery technology,” continues Cloughley. “Faradair® has specified a requirement for a hybrid engine that combines electric and ICE power to deliver a range of operational capabilities today.”
The engine is designed to run on JetA1 or biojet fuel as this becomes more widely adopted across the commercial aerospace sector. Research has shown that, on a full carbon lifecycle basis, using the equivalent quantity of some alternative fuels could reduce CO2 emissions by around 80% compared to the jet fuel they replace. This new engine will be able to accept these new fuels, replacing expensive and polluting Avgas or diesel alternatives.
“Offering single engine operators the safety backup of a twin propulsion system, on a single propulsion lever is the way of the future,” highlights Cloughley. “Operators will have the choice of whether to reduce their fuel burn and emissions by taking off on electric power only or they may choose to keep the electric in reserve in the event of an ICE stoppage, allowing them to maintain flight for up to 10 minutes to select a safe landing area.”
The first prototype engine will begin testing next year (2017).
Cloughley continues: “Since we announced our partnership with Prodrive last year, we have developed the relationship and it is fantastic to see the enthusiasm from their engineering team toward this new challenge, their engines are world class and we cannot wait to share more details about the H600 once it begins testing next year.”
The Hybraero H600 hybrid engine will be used to power the Faradair® ‘BEHA’ (Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft) that was launched in November 2014. The aircraft is continuing its development with design enhancements and modifications in recent months, and a first flight target now set for 2020. The short take-off and landing capable, triple box-wing regional utility aircraft will demonstrate the unique opportunity for hybrid flight aircraft, increasing quiet use of the skies as a viable local transport opportunity.
Prodrive is no stranger to hybrid technologies having worked on hybrid vehicle systems for 15 years; its recent development of silicon carbide multiport DCDC converters demonstrates the high level of expertise in hybrid technology and their engineers have designed and built engines for Aston Martin racing cars, among other top level engine creation projects, giving Faradair® huge confidence in their capability to develop and deliver the Hybraero H600 engine.
David Richards, chairman of Prodrive said: “We have become accustomed to hybrid cars and the environmental benefits they offer, so it makes complete sense to take the same technologies proven in the automotive industry and apply them to aviation. Unlike with cars though, hybrid engines can also offer light aircraft significant safety benefits as well as the ability to reduce noise pollution in urban areas during take and off and landing. It is yet another project for Prodrive in the aerospace sector and one which shows just how much the company has diversified over the last decade.”
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