Headline February 08, 2017/ ''' ELECTRIFYING -*ELECTRICALS*- ENGINEERING '''




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Airbus's E-Thrust concept is further from the runway. A collaborative project with Rolls-Royce, a British manufacturer of jet engines, and other research groups, the aircraft, or something like it, is projected to enter service around 2050.

By then, the European Union expects the aviation industry to have cut fuel consumption, emissions and noise from passenger aircraft by at least 20-30%, relative to today's state-of-the-art designs.

The goal of the E-Thrust is to meet such targets and be able to carry around  90 passengers on flights    of two hours or more, and still have a generous safety margin from its batteries.

This, though, will require a breakthrough in technology to store electricity -which might well happen over the next few decades. The concept also uses distributed propulsion, but with a twist because its hybrid.

A traditional jet engine sits in the tail of the E-Thrust. It also has three electrically driven fans on each wing. on take-off, the jet and all six electric fans will be used to provide maximum lift.

When the aircraft reaches its cruise altitude, the jet can be be throttled back but is powerful enough both to power the fans and to top up the batteries.

During  descent, both the jet and the fans will be turned off. As the aircraft glides, the oncoming air will turn the fans so that they work like wind turbines to top the battery some more.

The fans will be used to land, with the jet ticking over ready to provide additional thrust should the aircraft need to go around again.

One advantage of the  hybrid system is that it provides a massive boost to jet aircraft's  ''bypass'' ratio. This is a measure of the amount of air that flows around the hot core of a jet engine compared with that which goes through it to provide oxygen in the combustion chamber.

The jet engines on early passenger aircraft had a low by-pass ratio, producing a lot of their thrust from the from the fast-moving air blasting out of the rear of the core. This made them noisy and fuel-hungry.

As the blast leaves the core it turns a turbine, which via a shaft turns a fan at the front of the engine to draw in more air. By making the fan larger, it has been possible to move a nigger volume of slow-moving air [the bypass] around the outside of the core.

This is more efficient and much quieter. It is also the reason why jet engines have over the years got fatter.

Modern jets have a bypass ratio of up to 12:1 compared with about 5:1 or less in the 1970s. But making the fans even larger is becoming difficult as they take up more and more room under the wing. And bigger engines need stronger wings, which adds to an aircraft's weight.

The hybrid set up in the E-Thrust neatly gets around these problems because only the jet engine in the tail has a fuel burning core. this means all of the air flowing through the six electrically driven fans contribute to its ''effective''  bypass ratio of 20:1 or more.  This would make the aircraft extremely fuel-efficient and very quiet.
Another efficiency comes from the  distributed engines  ''ingesting''  what is called the boundary layer of air flowing over the wing. This is a very thin layer of air close to the surface of the wing. It is slowed down by friction as molecules of air touch the wing's surface.

The boundary layer passing over the raised upper surface of the aerofoil shape of a wing [which provides a wing with its lift]  can become turbulent, which helps produce the wake which a jet aircraft leaves behind.

By positioning the E-Thrust's electric fans above the wing to intercept the boundary-layer air, the fans can accelerate it, which reduces the drag from the wake.

Technical advances in two areas are needed for the E-Thrust to fly. Besides batteries the other  superconductivity , a phenomenon that removes electrical resistance when certain materials are cooled below a critical temperature.

Reducing resistance allows construction of electrical and motor systems light and powerful enough to fly the aircraft. This has been done on a small scale, in equipment such as hospital scanners.

But for an aircraft it will require intense cooling at a level beyond anything commercially available. A group at the University of Cambridge is working with Airbus on that problem.

Get over these hurdles, and electric aircraft will gather momentum. They will start off small but get bigger and carry more passengers as technologies improve.

Some of these technologies, Airbus expects, will also help make traditional jet aircraft more efficient and quieter, too. 

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