Honeywell has completed the first round of testing of its one-megawatt generator system, a new power source designed to serve hybrid-electric aircraft. This system is the industry's first aerospace-grade electric machine that can also be used as a one-megawatt motor without modifications.
The megawatt generator operated at 1.02 MVA (~1mW at unity power factor) power levels during the testing. The test demonstration ran continuously at 900 kilowatts, highlighting its high-power density (~8kw/kg) and efficiency (~97 per cent), which are key enablers in hybrid-electric propulsion for both aerospace and ground applications.
At 280 pounds, the one-megawatt generator weighs about the same as a motor scooter and delivers enough energy to power an entire neighbourhood block. Its compact size, low system weight and fuel savings translate into sustainable and operational benefits for hybrid-electric propulsion, and other applications such as mobile charging stations, turbogenerator systems that can be flown in remote areas and directed energy systems.
“Honeywell's megawatt generator is a new addition to our extensive portfolio and an industry first. It represents an important step in providing scalable solutions that advance industry innovation and support more sustainable and efficient operations,” says president, engines and power systems Dave Marinick. “Essential high power, through advanced and compact technology such as this, impacts both the future of flight and of hybrid-electric aerospace propulsion.”
When compared to other aerospace generators in the market today, key performance differentiators include a much higher efficiency (97 per cent versus 88-90 per cent) and improved power density (8kW/kg versus 2k-3kW/kg).
“Over the years, our experienced team of researchers and designers has developed several cutting-edge technologies to identify and address our customers' needs and to advance innovation in our industry. The development of our megawatt generator is another example of this, providing power levels several times higher than those available today while still meeting aerospace expectations around size and weight,” says senior director, electric and hybrid electric propulsion Taylor Alberstadt. “Additionally, the megawatt generator's potential to be seamlessly integrated with our existing gas turbine engines to create the most power-dense turbogenerators in the industry, including the ability to run on sustainable aviation fuels, is also exciting and will usher in an era of cleaner and less expensive air travel.”
These turbogenerator solutions can provide electricity to operate high-power electric motors, charge batteries, or in required cases mechanically drive a propeller to satisfy missions from heavy-lift cargo drones to air taxis and commuter aircraft.
The team is currently increasing the capability of the setup to support testing continuous operation at higher power levels, with ongoing development and qualification to follow for both Honeywell megawatt generator and turbogenerator systems.