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Design of Hybrid Electric Propulsion of Aircraft is starting to form its shape

On 19th and 20th November 2018 MAHEPA Consortium Meeting was held at 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. 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.

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.

During the meeting partners of the project MAHEPA were also taken to the laboratories of University of Ulm, where they could see, how the pilot components of hydrogen aircraft are being tested. The laboratories of University of Ulm have three main setups, which could be seen during the visit. The first one is the Emrax test bench, where Emrax electric motor is connected to a load machine to test it under different load conditions. The second setup is the 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 was 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.