Rolls-Royce has announced the development of new turbogenerator technology that will enable future aircraft to switch between power sources in flight.

The system, which includes a new small engine designed for hybrid-electric applications, will be an on-board power source and will complement the Rolls-Royce Electrical propulsion portfolio, enabling extended range on sustainable aviation fuels and later, as it becomes available, through hydrogen combustion.

Longer hybrid-electric flights

Current battery technology means all-electric propulsion will enable eVTOL and fixed-wing commuter aircraft to conduct short flights in and between cities and island-hopping in locations like Norway and the Scottish Isles.

By developing turbogenerator technology, to serve a power range between 500 kW and 1200 kW, new, longer routes can be opened up, Rolls Royce said.

Rolls-Royce experts based in Germany, Norway and Hungary are developing the turbogenerator design and working on its system integration.

Recharging batteries after take-off or powering propellers directly

The turbogenerator will recharge batteries after take-off or power propellers directly, enabling aircraft to switch between power sources in flight. The research and development of this technology is being part funded by the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.

Rob Watson, President of Rolls-Royce Electrical, said: “Rolls-Royce will be the leading provider of all-electric and hybrid-electric power and propulsion systems for Advanced Air Mobility and will scale this technology over time to larger platforms.

Maintenance services

“I would like to thank the German government for their support. As part of our strategy, we are looking at offering the complete sustainable solution for our customers. This means extending routes that electric flight can support through our turbogenerator technology. This will advance hybrid-electric flight and mean more passengers will be able to travel further on low to net zero emissions aircraft.

“Rolls-Royce is also set to build on our existing network to offer maintenance services for electrical systems. Furthermore, Rolls-Royce Power Systems is able to offer mtu microgrid solutions to support fast-charging of electric aircraft and deliver reliable, cost-effective, climate friendly and sustainable power to vertiports.”

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