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Rolls-Royce developing turbogenerator technology for hybrid-electric aviation applications

Rolls-Royce is developing turbogenerator technology—including a new small engine—designed for hybrid-electric aviation applications. The system will be an on-board power source with scalable power offerings and will complement the Rolls-Royce Electrical propulsion portfolio, enabling extended range on sustainable aviation fuels and later as it comes available through hydrogen combustion.


Current battery technology means all-electric propulsion will enable eVTOL and fixed wing commuter aircraft for short flights in and between cities and island-hopping in locations such as Norway and the Scottish Isles. By developing turbogenerator technology that will be scaled to serve a power range between 500 kW and 1200 kW, Rolls-Royce says that it can open up new longer routes that electric battery-powered aircraft can also support.

Rolls-Royce experts based in Germany, Norway and Hungary are developing the turbogenerator design and working on its system integration and are focused on ensuring smart power distribution during flight. 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.

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. 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.

—Rob Watson, President – Rolls Royce Electrical

Last year, Rolls-Royce announced a pathway to net zero carbon emissions and its electrical technology is one way in which the company is helping decarbonize critical parts of the global economy.



Why not just use a new turboprop in the first place?

What are the advantages over one?
a: You can run on batteries for takeoff and so reduce noise and pollution.
b: You get to pretend that you have an electric aeroplane.

Can it run on a wider range of fuels?
Is it more efficient than a straight turboprop?
Is it cheaper to make?


Rolls has had a fuel cell program for more than a decade,
they might use that on larger aircraft


Turbine engine optimum performance speed is often a design compromise. This alleviates that problem, and it can be used as a very lightweight reserve range extender which can save a lot of battery weight to satisfy FAA reserve range rules with zero or lower carbon emissions.


@GdB, thanks, that makes sense.
+ as they have a tank of kerosene, they might as well add a thousand or so km to the range...
Makes much more sense than a "Zero carbon or bust" approach.


While a series hybrid turboprop sounds good it does not make sense for airliners. The added weight of turbogenerator, batteries, and motors does not save that much fuel compared to a straight turboprop. Compare the Tecnam 2012 (900 mile range) vs the Tecnam P-Volt (100 mile range with a 1100 kg battery). A turbogenerator will not help much. Just use Sustainable Aviation Fuel for airliners.
Bjorn Fehrm At Bjorn’s Corner covers hybrid electric airliners in depth and does not see any benefit. However, he does think hybrid electric helicopters may work.
Airbus is looking into an H130 with a 100-kilowatt electric motor and batteries for emergency backup. Leonardo is also exploring a hybrid AW09 Kopter.
Helicopters require complex rotor control and electric motors allow many options even slowed rotors. They may also eliminate the transmission and driveshafts which add weight (up to .4 lb/hp) and are a problem area requiring significant testing and maintenance.

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