With the objective to assess potentially performant hybrid-electric architectures, this paper aims to present an aircraft performance level evaluation, in terms of range and payload, of the synergies between a hybrid-electric energy system configuration and a cryogenic fuel system.
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is modeled using an aircraft performance tool, modified to take into account the hybrid nature of the system. The fuel and thermal management systems are modeled looking to maximize the synergistic effects. The electrical system is defined in series with the thermal engine and the performance, in terms of weight and efficiency, are tracked as a function of the cooling temperature.
The results show up to a 46 per cent increase in range and up to 7 per cent gain on a payload with a reference hybrid-electric aircraft that uses conventional drop-in JP-8 fuel. The configuration that privileges a reduction in mass of the electric motors by taking advantage of the cryogenic coolant temperature shows the highest benefits. A sensitivity study is also presented showing the dependency on the modeling capabilities.
The synergistic combination of a cryogenic fuel and the additional heat sources of a hybrid-electric system with a tendency to higher electric component efficiency or reduced weight results in a considerable performance increase in terms of both range and payload.
The potential synergies between a cryogenic fuel and the electrical system of a hybrid-electric aircraft seem clear; however, at the present, no detailed performance evaluation at aircraft level that includes the fuel, thermal management and electric systems, has been published.
Sibilli, T., Senne, C., Jouan, H., Isikveren, A. and Ayat, S. (2020), "Synergistic hybrid-electric liquid natural gas drone: S.H.I.E.L.D", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/AEAT-10-2019-0211Download as .RIS
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