Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hybrid Propulsion in Airplanes

Here is an interesting article in MITTechnology Review, talking about various development which should lead to hybrid propulsion airplanes within a decade or so: Once a Joke, Battery-Powered Airplanes Are Nearing Reality.
Some key points:

- Last month Siemens and EADS demonstrated a new gas-electric vehicle capable of carrying two people and their luggage 900 kilometers between refuels and recharges,

- The hybrid plane is similar to the Chevrolet Volt in that it relies on an electric motor and uses a gas engine as backup and matches performance of some private airplanes already on the market, but is quieter and 25% more duel efficient.

- 4 to 19 seater hybrid aircraft may happen up with a decade.

- Boeing and EADS are developing concept 150 seater hybrid aircraft. But they are not expected to come into service before 2030.

- Improvement in battery technology and the technologies required to integrate gas and electric motors getting smaller and lighter have enabled development of hybrid airplanes.

- Adoption of hybrid propulsion as well as all-electric engines depend on further improvements in battery technology. Hence all electric big planes may not happen before 2050.

- Initial usage of electric propulsion on bigger planes may happn on the ground - for taxiing purposes, helping them save fuel on the ground.

Incidentally, here is the first solar powered plane: Solar Powered Plane. It just finished its cross-country journey from Califirnia and landed at New York on Saturday: Solar powered plane finishes journey, lands in NYC.


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