A consortium of manufacturers is coming together to find cleaner aviation technology

MTU Aero Engines is coordinating a consortium of newly formed aerospace technology companies to develop hybrid-electric and water-enhanced turbofan technology. The consortium includes Pratt & Whitney, Collins Aerospace, GKN Aerospace, Airbus, the University of Stuttgart and others. (Photo: MTU Aero Engines)

Various aerospace technology companies have joined together in a partnership to develop water-enhanced and hybrid-electric propulsion systems for aircraft. Coordinated by MTU Aero Engines AG (MTU), the partnership is supported by the European Union’s Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking (Clean Aviation) and includes partners such as Collins Aerospace (Collins), the University of Stuttgart, Pratt Whitney, GKN Aerospace and Airbus. . The consortium’s goal is to reduce CO2 emissions from aircraft by up to 25%.

Collaboration between leading airlines is needed to sustain the airline industry, especially as pressure from regulators and the public increases on aircraft emissions. As Jeff Hunt, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Technology at Pratt & Whitney explains, ““Given the challenge of reducing aviation’s environmental impact, interdisciplinary collaboration and public-private partnerships like Clean Aviation will play a critical role in realizing the technological breakthroughs needed to remove air pollution into clean air.”

The main objective of the group is to support sustainable water injection turbofans consisting of water injection and hybrid electricity (SWITCH) using their combined knowledge, technology and resources. Two innovative technologies are planned to reduce the aircraft’s carbon footprint: water-enhanced turboprops (WETs) and hybrid electric propulsion. MOISTURE creates a more efficient ride by recovering water vapor from the exhaust and returning it to the combustion chamber. The consortium plans to combine the WET with a Pratt & Whitney GTF power plant equipped with electric motors designed to improve the efficiency of all phases of flight, especially taxiing.

Researching and developing more efficient propulsion systems is key to improving aviation sustainability. As Airbus Chief Technology Officer Sabina Klauk explains, “New propulsion technologies, along with new aircraft designs and sustainable energy sources, will play a key role in achieving the goal of net-zero aviation.” Any technology developed by SWITCH is compatible with Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), so a consortium of aerospace companies can use these sustainable energy sources. considered the value of the source.

Each consortium member brings capital and expertise to support the SWITCH project. Airbus has valuable insight into the integration of these new technologies into current aircraft. Specifically, the aircraft manufacturer will help evaluate the aircraft design and energy management system. At the same time, Collins will provide the SWITCH program with power electronics, electric motor generators, DC distribution, and engine case architecture. GKN Aerospace will supply the engine structure to support new technologies such as heat exchangers.

The consortium working on the SWITCH project is not the first program Clean Aviation has supported recently. A public-private partnership, supported in part by the European Union, has supported several reforms to improve air transport. Latest Clean Sky 2, Clean Aviation program, The C295 successfully completed its first flight with a test bed. The aircraft has been modified to reduce emissions and noise levels and features promising new technologies.

Backed by powerful and successful aerospace companies, the SWITCH program is another project that aims to use technology to create a cleaner future for aviation. With funding until 2025, the SWITCH team hopes to test its technology and apply its innovation to current aircraft for positive results.

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