Rolls-Royce is testing its 2.5-MW generator for future hybrid aircraft

Rolls-Royce has worked hard in recent months to test what the company calls “the most powerful hybrid-electric aero power and propulsion system in the aerospace industry.” The company has now delivered a 2.5-megawatt electrical generator, which will be at the heart of the propulsion system, to its newly-renovated Testbed 108 facility in Bristol, UK, for final testing.

This generator is a part of the demonstration program of the 2.5-megawatt power generation system 1 (PGS1), intended for future regional aircraft that require a megawatt-scale hybrid-electric propulsion system. The generator recently completed development testing in Trondheim, Norway, before being shipped to Bristol, where testing has been carried out on the engine, controls, and the thermal management system on Testbed 108.

The goal is to produce greener, lighter, less complex, cheaper to maintain, and also more suitable for computer control. In addition to hybrid-electric propulsion, the generator could also be used as part of a “more-electric” system for larger aircraft or within the future ground or marine applications.

We are excited to bring the generator to our new testbed and start fully integrating PGS1,” said Adam Newman, Chief Design Engineer, Aviation Futures, Rolls-Royce. “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.

As for the entire finished system, there is no information yet on when this will happen.

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