Honeywell turbogenerator to power hybrid-electric aircraft
Honeywell

Honeywell turbogenerator to power hybrid-electric aircraft

New system to combine flight-proven auxiliary power unit with high-efficiency generator to run on biofuel.

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Honeywell is developing a power source for hybrid-electric aircraft, planned for demonstration later this year.

At 280 lb, the Honeywell 1MW generator weighs about the same as a motor scooter but delivers enough energy to power an entire neighborhood block. This generator will be combined with the Honeywell HGT1700 auxiliary power unit, currently flown on every Airbus A350 XWB, to form a turbogenerator 2.5x more powerful than the version the company unveiled in 2019.

The new turbogenerator from Honeywell will be able to run on aviation biofuel, including Honeywell Green Jet Fuel, which is chemically similar to fossil fuel but made from more sustainable alternatives, as well as conventional jet fuel and diesel. Honeywell’s turbogenerator can be used to operate high-power electric motors or charge batteries and can satisfy missions from heavy-lift cargo drones to air taxis, or commuter aircraft. The first demonstration of this turbogenerator system will occur in Q3 2021, with ongoing development and qualification to follow.

“There is an inherent need for electric and hybrid-electric power as the urban air mobility segment takes shape and unmanned aerial vehicles enter service,” said Stephane Fymat, vice president and general manager for Unmanned Aerial Systems and Urban Air Mobility at Honeywell Aerospace. “Our turbogenerators provide a safe, lightweight package to serve these burgeoning segments, and we’re designing our solutions to meet the unique needs of customers developing aerial vehicles of the future.”

Traditionally, aircraft use fuel-burning engines to mechanically turn rotors, propellers, or fans. Many new designs, however, use a distributed electric propulsion architecture, in which many electric motors can be tilted or turned off for vertical takeoff and horizontal flight. A Honeywell turbogenerator can provide electric power for multiple electric motors anywhere on an aircraft.

“Honeywell’s unrivaled legacy in the manufacturing of auxiliary power units and larger gas turbine engines gives us the ability to create unique power systems for future vehicles,” said Taylor Alberstadt, senior director of Power Systems Business Development at Honeywell Aerospace. “We think the future of aviation will include many new types of propulsion and power systems, and Honeywell is prepared to lead the way in their development.” 

Honeywell pioneered the sustainable aviation fuel market with its UOP Ecofining process. Honeywell Green Jet Fuel produced by this process is blended seamlessly with petroleum-based jet fuel at commercial scale. When used in up to a 50% blend with petroleum-based jet fuel, Honeywell Green Jet Fuel requires no changes to aircraft technology and meets all critical specifications for flight.