These days, aircraft consist largely of a cylindrical fuselage with wings attached. The design has been in use for decades. AHEAD, a new study, shows that aircraft design can be different. Could these hybrid engines be the future of aviation?
Future demands on the air transport systems dictate that aircraft should be less polluting, less noisy and more fuel efficient. Also, in the long term alternative fuels like biofuels and hydrogen will replace the traditional jet fuel.
Hybrid engines for aircraft
The hybrid engine proposed in AHEAD is a novel propulsion system with a different architecture as compared to the conventional turbofan engine. The hybrid engine uses several unique technologies like shrouded contra-rotating fans, bleed cooling, dual hybrid combustion system (using hydrogen and biofuel under flameless conditions to reduce CO2 and NOx emission respectively). The hybrid engine proposed in AHEAD will constitute a leap forward in terms of environmental friendliness, will use advanced multiple fuels and will enable the design of fuel-efficient Blended Wing Body (BWB) aircraft configurations.
This video contains a 3 minute pitch covering the Advanced Hybrid Engines for Aircraft Development project.
The efficiency of BWB aircraft will be enhanced significantly due to embedded hybrid engines using the boundary layer ingestion (BLI) method. The project aims to establish the feasibility of proposed hybrid engine configuration and will demonstrate that the concept will substantially lower the engine emissions, installation drag and noise.
The BWB configuration along with the proposed hybrid engine concept will bring in the much required breakthrough in civil aviation. The project will also evaluate the effect of LH2 storage on BWB aircraft and its integration with embedded hybrid engines and the environmental gains achieved. Special attention will directed to evaluate the effect of H2O emission on the environment.