Airplanes finally go hybrid-electric

Airplanes finally go hybrid-electric

An aircraft with a parallel hybrid engine – the first ever to be able to recharge its batteries in flight – has been successfully tested in the UK, an important early step towards cleaner, low-carbon air travel. Researchers from the University of Cambridge, in association with Boeing, have successfully tested the first aircraft to be powered by a parallel hybrid-electric propulsion system, where an electric motor and petrol engine work together to drive the propeller. The demonstrator aircraft uses up to 30% less fuel than a comparable plane with a petrol-only engine. The aircraft is also able to recharge its batteries in flight, the first time this has been achieved.



The demonstrator is based on a commercially-available single-seat aircraft, and its hybrid engine was designed and built by engineers at Cambridge with Boeing funding support. The aircraft uses a combination of a 4-stroke piston engine and an electric motor / generator, coupled through the same drive pulley to spin the propeller. During take-off and climb, when maximum power is required, the engine and motor work together to power the plane, but once cruising height is reached, the electric motor can be switched into generator mode to recharge the batteries or used in motor assist mode to minimize fuel consumption. The same principle is at work in a hybrid car.

Credit by University of Cambridge


Read the whole article on Phys.org

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