Thursday, May 24, 2012

An electric-hybrid airliner?

It seems as if Boeing has come up with an airliner equivalent to hybrid automobiles like the Prius.  It's purely a concept at this stage, but that may change over the next couple of decades.  Back in 2010, Boeing released this report.

The Boeing subsonic team ... has looked at five concepts as part of the SUGAR (Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research) project. The concepts include two conventional reference configurations, similar in appearance to a 737 (nicknamed SUGAR Free and Refined SUGAR), two versions of a new design high span, strut-braced wing aircraft (referred to as SUGAR High and SUGAR Volt), and a hybrid wing body configuration (called SUGAR Ray).

The team’s report provides detailed benefits and drawbacks as well as recommendations for further study, but doesn’t show favorites. “No single concept met all of the study goals, so we did not pick a preferred concept,” said team leader Marty Bradley of BR&T.

However, the team has found that the SUGAR Volt concept (which adds an electric battery gas turbine hybrid propulsion system) can reduce fuel burn by greater than 70 percent and total energy use by 55 percent when battery energy is included. Moreover, the fuel burn reduction and the ‘greening’ of the electrical power grid can produce large reductions in emissions of life cycle CO2 and nitrous oxide. Hybrid electric propulsion also has the potential to shorten takeoff distance and reduce noise.

The SUGAR team’s report concludes that hybrid electric engine technology “is a clear winner, because it can potentially improve performance relative to all of the NASA goals.”

There's more at the link.

Boeing recently released this video about its ideas.  The proposed aircraft would be a commuter-type airliner, aimed at replacing short- to medium-range turboprops such as the Canadian Bombardier Dash 8 or the French ATR 42 and ATR 72 models.

Looks interesting!  I may live long enough to be able to fly aboard one of these.  Something to look forward to - although I'd rather take a flight into space, if I ever win the lottery!



Old NFO said...

Interesting concept, but the whole zero fuel weight (ZFW) issue is rearing it's head with the battery weight, AND if they go with lithium ion or similar, you have a toxic fumes issue too...

Sport Pilot said...

At face value I believe that this is an incredibly cutting edge technology project that will produce new knowledge. That said though it will in no way whatsoever reduce pollutant emissions as the charging system electricity, manufacturing of raw and finished materials and overall operations will match or exceed a standard turbofan jet airliner of equivalent size. The same principle has applied to the all-electric and hybrid cars as well but is downplayed. Still, like yourself I’d love to be able to say that I’d flown in one of them because I like the concept.

Aaron said...

It's easy. Just copy the electric vehicles and kick the 'green' can down the road.

'Green' vehicles rely on 'bad' coal plants to charge their batteries.

Simply build a glider that gets towed to 20,000 feet by an actual plane. Or a rocket engine. Just like electric vehicles, you can go a few hundred miles before you need to recharge (be towed back up to 20,000 feet).

Scott said...

What, running the (electric) starter motors to add more power to the fan sections?

Still hurting with the weight of batteries, plus the greenhouse gas emissions of the electric utilities need to be accounted for.

KurtP said...

I'm surprised I didn't see any logo's from "the Onion" up there.
Nore was any dates marked 04/01/12.

Does anyone remember how a jet works? Take the heat away and you have a blower fan.

Besides....sugar VOLT???? SRLY?