Rolls-Royce announces new turbogenerator to power hybrid electric flight

Slated for 2029, the new turbogenerator will use sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and later transition to hydrogen.
Ameya Paleja
The turbogenerator from Rolls Royce
The turbogenerator from Rolls Royce


British aero-engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has unveiled a new turbogenerator to power hybrid-electric flights.

The generator will initially use sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and later transition to hydrogen fuel when it becomes more widely available, the company said.

Rolls-Royce is working hard to meet the new demands of the aerospace industry. With one eye on carbon emissions, the sector is looking to transition to more sustainable engines. Electric and hybrid motors will play a key role in that.

Rolls-Royce, which has also been working on the world's largest engine, has focused on building technology to power the future of flight, where fossil fuels are no longer an option.

Interesting Engineering previously reported its "turbogenerator" tech that would enable low-emission flights.

The Derby-based manufacturer chose this week's Paris Air Show to unveil the new technology.

Rolls-Royce's turbogenerator

Last year, Rolls-Royce said that the turbogenerator had a fully integrated design – meaning that the gas turbine, generator, and power electronics all fit into a compact and lightweight engine.

Advances in sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) allow Rolls-Royce to run the engine with low-carbon emissions, with plans of shifting to hydrogen fuel when the technology matures.

The generator can either be used to power propellers directly or charge onboard batteries.

Flight operators would be able to switch between batteries and the generator, as required, allowing for an increase in the range of the aircraft.

Since part of the funding for the turbogenerator is coming from the German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Rolls-Royce has been testing the engine at its centers in Dahlewitz, near Berlin and in Hungary.

Eye on AAM

Another reason for shifting its testing center away from Derby in the UK for this turbogenerator is the location of its "gigafactory" for electric batteries that Rolls-Royce plans to incorporate in its cars as well as future aircraft.

Rolls-Royce announces new turbogenerator to power hybrid electric flight
eVTOLs could be the taxis of the future

The company is also eyeing the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) market, which includes electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft being touted as solutions for urban congestion and regional flights.

Rolls Royce is not only building its electric propulsion portfolio but also aims to provide the energy solution for these aircraft, and the turbogenerator neatly fits into the short-term requirements of the industry, until further innovations allow electric aviation to take off.

"Rolls-Royce will be the leading provider of all-electric and hybrid-electric power and propulsion systems for Advanced Air Mobility," said Olaf Otto, President – Electrical at Rolls Royce, in a press release.

"The Pass-To-Test (PTT) of our brand-new small engine that will power our turbogenerator system is an important step forward."

When using SAF, the turbogenerator is expected to deliver onboard power between 500kW and 1200kW, which is greater than that offered by electric motors in eVTOLs today and is expected to increase their range.

Rolls-Royce has partnered with eVTOL makers such as Bristol-based Vertical Aerospace and Embraer's electric arm, Eve, to provide propulsion technology.

With the turbogenerator, the company has cemented its position as a reliable solution provider in an up-and-coming eVTOL sector.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board