Rolls-Royce Tests 2.5 MW Generator for Hybrid Aircraft

The company plans to build the most powerful hybrid-electric aero power and propulsion system yet.
Ameya Paleja
Engineer working on the Power Generation SystemRolls-Royce

In a bid to make air travel more sustainable in the near future, jet engine maker Rolls-Royce will now test a 2.5-megawatt electric generator at its facility in Bristol, UK. The generator is core to making the most powerful hybrid-electric aero power and propulsion system, the company said in a press release.

Rolls-Royce is the maker of Trent engines that power the Airbus A330, A340, A350, and A380 series in addition to the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner series. Since air travel is a major contributor to greenhouse emissions, the company wants to ensure that its future products are net-zero compatible by 2030. To this effect, it has also made the world's largest aero-engine that delivers 25 percent fuel efficiency, compared to its Trent engines.  

To deliver net-zero compatible operations by 2050, the company is looking at hybrid-electric propulsion systems. The 2.5 MW generator is part of the bigger plan to make aircraft engines easy to operate and maintain while also being greener. 

"Our generator is about the size of a beer keg but it needs to produce enough electricity to continuously power around 2,500 homes," said Adam Newman, Chief Design Engineer at Rolls-Royce,

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Called the Power Generations System 1 (PGS1), the generator will be powered by AE2100 engines that Rolls-Royce also makes. The electricity produced by the generator will then be used to power fan motors. Additionally, the PGS1 is also designed to be a part of the electric system of larger aircraft that could be used on the ground or at sea, the company said.

The PGS1 was manufactured at Rolls-Royce's facility at Trondheim in Norway, where it completed its development testing as well. It has now been shipped to Bristol in the UK, where Rolls-Royce has a renovated facility, called Testbed 108. Completion of the testing at the Bristol site will prepare the company to support future aircraft in the megawatt class.