The Future of Aerospace: Reports from the FlyZero Project

Funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, FlyZero is an Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) project aiming to realise zero-carbon emission commercial aviation by 2030.

A range of reports have been published forming the conclusions of the FlyZero project and presenting a route to reality for a new generation of zero-carbon emission aircraft.

DER-IC partner University of Nottingham has been instrumental in these reports through its Institute for Aerospace Technology, who authored the detailed reports on Semiconductor Devices, Magnetic Materials, Power Electronics and Motor and Drives.

Two particular reports of interest for the Power Electronics, Machines and Drives (PEMD) sector are as follows:

Electrical Propulsion Systems Roadmap Report

This roadmap and accompanying report recommends technologies to make electrical propulsion viable for zero emission flight.

FlyZero has identified liquid H2 (LH2) as the most viable energy source for a zero emission aircraft. The FlyZero team assessed a hydrogen fuel cell powered electrical propulsions system, identifying that the power density of the system would be the primary parameter to optimise. Initial assessment showed that an electrical propulsion system would be significantly heavier than a gas turbine equivalent; however, it was an unexplored area with significant potential for improvement.

The electrical propulsion system considered within FlyZero uses proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells as the power source, electric motor driven propeller and all the associated conversion and distribution systems. For the scope of FlyZero, electric propulsion was evaluated on a regional concept due to the weight challenges mentioned above. However, as the technology is developed it can be utilised on bigger platforms.

This report covers the system level assessments, technology indicators and proposed development roadmaps for electrical propulsion system. Certain components such as fuel cell and associated balance of plant are covered in detail in their own roadmap report due to the level of importance.

Advanced Manufacturing

FlyZero has concluded that liquid hydrogen is the most viable zero-carbon emission fuel in terms of its potential to scale to larger aircraft. Manufacturing technologies will be key enablers to realising these future hydrogen aircraft.

This report has highlighted manufacturing challenges and opportunities across all six of the FlyZero hydrogen aerospace technology bricks but with particular challenges around tanks, light weighting of aerostructures and combustor manufacture.

The six FlyZero hydrogen aerospace technology bricks are:

  • Hydrogen fuel systems and tanks

  • Aerodynamic structures

  • Hydrogen gas turbines

  • Hydrogen fuel cells

  • Electrical propulsion systems

  • Thermal management

To view all of the reports, please visit the ATI website.

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