Toulouse, France – Supported by the European Union Joint Undertaking for Clean Aviation, MTU Aero Engines AG in Munich, Pratt & Whitney and Collins Aerospace of Raytheon Technologies, GKN Aerospace in Redditch, England, as well as Airbus and others companies have announced the formation of a collaborative consortium to develop hybrid systems – electric and hydraulic turbofan technology for future aircraft propulsion systems.
With the SWITCH (Sustainable Water-Injecting Turbofan Comprising Hybrid-Electrics) project, aerospace companies aim to demonstrate the potential of these technologies to improve fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions from aircraft by up to 25% compared to the current state of technology. state-of-the-art propulsion systems for short- and medium-range aircraft.
The SWITCH project focuses on the development of a new propulsion concept built from two technologies: Water Enhanced Turbofan (WET) and hybrid-electric propulsion. By combining these technologies with Pratt & Whitney’s GTF engine architecture, the SWITCH concept aims to improve efficiency and reduce emissions across an aircraft’s entire operating range. Technologies developed under SWITCH will be fully compatible with cleaner alternative fuels – such as Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) – and will be evaluated for future use with hydrogen.
The GTF hybrid-electric powertrain will enable greater efficiency in all phases of flight by leveraging megawatt-class electric motor generators, power electronics and batteries to optimize combustion gas turbine performance . The WET concept captures water vapor from engine exhaust and reinjects it into the combustion chamber to dramatically improve fuel efficiency, reduce NOx emissions and reduce drag-forming emissions. These breakthrough technologies are designed to work together to radically reduce emissions and power consumption across the entire operating system, while maintaining world-class reliability and operability.
Airbus in Toulouse, France will provide key expertise relating to the future integration of SWITCH technologies at aircraft level and support the assessment of performance benefits, including aircraft design and battery and system integration energy management. Collins Aerospace in Charlotte, North Carolina will supply megawatt-class electric motor generators and power electronics, high voltage DC distribution and protection, thermal management components and nacelle architectures for the project.
GKN Aerospace will develop various engine structures with brand new features, such as integrated electric machines and heat exchangers.
In addition to aerospace companies, the project also sees the participation of the German Aerospace Center DLR, as well as higher education institutions from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece; Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and the University of Stuttgart in Germany.
“This project will allow us to advance several key technologies on our roadmap to further extend the efficiency of the GTF engine architecture,” said Geoff Hunt, senior vice president, Engineering and Technology, Pratt & Whitney, headquartered in East Hartford, Conn. “Given the challenge of reducing the environmental impact of aviation, cross-industry collaboration and public-private partnerships like Clean Aviation will play a vital role in achieving the technological breakthroughs needed to make net-zero emissions aviation a reality.”
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