[ Design of Hybrid Electric Propulsion of Aircraft is starting to form its shape ]
Partners of MAHEPA Consortium gathered on 19th and 20th of November 2018 in Merklingen, Germany to discuss the progress made on the development of modular architectural concepts for hybrid electric aircrafts and to plan further activities in powertrain system design, component specifications, software specifications, power management, etc. Since the time project started aircraft is now starting to form its shape. So far PMCD (power management, control and delivery) module with software and functional specifications has been defined together with intra-component high level communication interface, which will allow a single or multiple PMCDs to achieve oversight and control over an arbitrary serial hybrid powertrain. The design of the PMCD module had to focus on efficiency and lightweight since both are critical to increasing the traveling range of the aircraft. The PMCD module consists of the hardware (switches, diodes, and fuses) and the software (energy management strategy) that will control the switches in order to redirect the power flow between the different components in the powertrain during the flight. Also scalable hybrid electric fuel cell powertrain with intermediate steps has been designed to optimize power management and achieve enhanced levels of performance. Unlike conventional fuel-powered aircraft, where the relation between engine thrust and fuel consumption is a one-dimensional functional, hybrid-electric aircraft will operate in a bi-dimensional space, where different power management methods will be explored. The most perspective power management methods will then be developed as a high-level control function of the PMCD module using the API layer and tested in flight.
Partners of the MAHEPA project also got to see the laboratories of University of Ulm, where they are testing pilot components of hydrogen aircraft. With three main setups, partners could see the test bench, where electric motor is connected to a load machine to test it under different load conditions. In the second setup is set a vacuum chamber, where the HY4 power system will be tested under low pressure to simulate the ambient conditions of the airplane during flight. The last setup is formed by the Rotax combustion engine test room, which will also be connected to a load machine and tested under different load conditions. Not only partners’ excellent knowledge and experience but also outstanding research and laboratory facilities has shown to be the key success factor of MAHEPA project.