Some developers see hybrid power plants as an ecological compromise between conventional and all-electric aircraft. It is believed that thanks to such installations, hybrid vehicles will be able to fly, in terms of duration, not much inferior to conventional airplanes and helicopters, and cause less harm to the environment.
Recently, the VerdeGo Aero team has successfully performed the first test runs of their “Iron Bird” prototype diesel-hybrid (Jet A fuel) generator system in early August. The tests were carried out at the installation of electrical power output levels above 150KW.
This ground-based development hardware is built around the certified Continental CD-265 high-efficiency diesel aviation engine. It is being used for testing to refine the weight, power output, cooling systems, and reliability of the conformal hybrid systems now being engineered for aerospace customers. The VerdeGo hybrid generator can be combined with battery packs to enable peak power output up to 0.5MW, and modular twin generator systems can be stacked for 360KW continuous and 1MW peak output.
VerdeGo Aero says their diesel-hybrid system runs on globally-available Jet-A fuel consuming around 40% less fuel than competing turbine-hybrid offerings. It also provides 4-8 times the endurance of competing for battery-only powertrains. The unit weighs 277 kilograms, including the cooling system, control electronics, and exhaust system.
“Getting the Iron Bird running not only validates the operating economics of our diesel-hybrid power generation system, but it also enables us to perform hardware-in-the-loop simulations using mission profiles from our airframe customers,” says David Eichstedt, Director of Advanced Concepts. “It’s a powerful way for customers to validate the economics of their aircraft designs value proposition using real powertrain hardware without leaving the ground.”