Rolls-Royce unveils turbogenerator technology for hybrid aircraft

The company hopes the appliance will extend the range of flights powered by sustainable fuels

A pilot and engineer work on Rolls-Royce's Spirit of Innovation, a battery-powered single-engine plane. Photo: Mark Chilvers for The National
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Rolls-Royce has unveiled new turbogenerator technology, opening up the potential for low-emission aircraft to fly longer routes.

The technology includes a small engine designed for hybrid-electric applications and will serve as an on-board power source that offers scalable power.

The company hopes the appliance will eventually be used to extend the range of flights powered by sustainable aviation fuels.

Rolls-Royce said the new technology, being developed by experts in Germany, Norway and Hungary, will serve a power range between 500kW and 1,200Kw. Some funding for research and development has been provided by the German government.

The turbogenerator will recharge batteries after take-off or power propellers directly, enabling aircraft to switch between power sources in flight.

Rob Watson, president of Rolls-Royce Electrical, said the addition of the latest technology will enable more passengers to travel on low-emission aircraft.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Last year, Rolls-Royce unveiled its plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions. The company has committed to ensuring all new products will be compatible with net zero operation by 2030, and the entire range of products will be compatible with net zero by 2050.

Updated: June 23, 2022, 11:30 AM