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Rolls-Royce generator delivered for megawatt-level hybrid-electric propulsion system for aerospace

The generator that will be at the heart of the most powerful hybrid-electric aero power and propulsion system in aerospace has arrived for installation at Rolls-Royces’s specialist testbed.



The generator and related 3,000-volt power electronics system was delivered to the newly-renovated Testbed 108 in Bristol, UK, from the Rolls-Royce facility in Trondheim, Norway, having completed an extensive development test program. It will form part of the 2.5 megawatt (MW) Power Generation System 1 (PGS1) demonstrator program for future regional aircraft.

In addition to hybrid-electric propulsion, the generator could also be used as part of a “more-electric” system for larger aircraft or within future ground or marine applications.

PGS1 forms an important element of Rolls-Royce’s sustainability strategy, which includes developing innovative electrical power and propulsion systems.

Rolls-Royce has already tested the AE2100 engine element, specialist controls and thermal management system at Testbed 108.

We are excited to bring the generator to our new testbed and start fully integrating PGS1. This is a key milestone in the program, bringing together the work of teams in the UK and Norway who have worked so hard to get us to this point. It is a great privilege to be involved in such important work—developing innovative electrical power systems is part of our sustainability strategy for the future.

Our generator is about the size of a beer keg but it needs to produce enough electricity to continuously power around 2,500 homes—that is breaking new ground in terms of what is physically possible. On completion of testing, we will have a basis for megawatt-level power for future hybrid aircraft.

—Adam Newman, Chief Design Engineer, Aviation Futures, Rolls-Royce

Both Testbed 108 and PGS1 have been supported by the UK Aerospace Technology Institute’s MegaFlight project, while the 2.5MW electrical generator, motor and power electronics design, make and testing in Trondheim has been supported by the EU Clean Sky 2 program.

Testbed 108 has a history that relates to a number of iconic aircraft engines. They include:

  • 1960s /’70s - Hercules and Centaurus engines which powered the Bristol Beaufighter, Bristol Brabazon and Hawker Sea Fury aircraft. Olympus engine that powered the Concorde supersonic jet aircraft and the Avro Vulcan.

  • 1970s/’80s - Pegasus and RB199 engines, powering the Harrier and Tornado.

  • 1990s - Gem and RTM322 that power the Lynx, Army Air Corps Apache and Royal Navy Merlin helicopters.

The testbed, which had been used as a storage facility from 2008, was completely renovated to accommodate hybrid-electric testing.



2.5 MW (x2) is enough to power an ATR72, so that is a piece of the puzzle.

They say it is the size of a beer keg - but look at the image, looks more like a large barrel than a standard beer keg. (maybe one side is an electric motor and the other the generator).

+ history wise the Hercules and Centaurus engines were more '40s engines than '60s.

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