VerdeGo Aero this week unveiled the hybrid-electric generator it is providing to power aircraft being developed by XTI, Airflow, and Jaunt Air Mobility. The U.S. company says the 185 kW VH-3-185 unit is the third generation of its hardware and is ready for certification and large-scale production.
The integrated powerplant includes an engine, generator/motor, power electronics, and cooling systems. The VH-3-185 can be installed as a single unit or as part of a pair of generators to deliver peak burst power of up to 1 MW and continuous power of up to 370 kW.
The VH-3 uses a diesel engine based on the SMA SR-305 unit that VerdeGo has previously certified for other hybrid power applications and it can run on existing jet-A fuel or new biofuels. According to the propulsion specialist, for some applications hybrid-electric aircraft will be able to carry sufficient fuel for multiple flights without having to refuel until they return to an operating base, overcoming the need to provide energy infrastructure at landing sites. The company says that the VH-3-185 provides aircraft manufacturers with between four and seven times as much endurance as current battery packs offer.
“The VH-3 hybrid system is to be designed to be compatible with the rationale for electrification, allowing airframers to develop hybrid-electric aircraft with mission capabilities that may not be available for 20 years in the battery-electric market while enabling compliance with Part 91 or Part 135 energy reserve requirements for safe flight planning,” said VerdeGo Aero CEO Eric Bartsch.
According to VerdeGo, its generator will be 40 percent more fuel efficient than a conventional aircraft turbofan or turboprop engine, or a turbine-hybrid powerplant with similar power output.
To take account of the different aircraft architectures envisaged by developers of eVTOL and eSTOL models, the VH-3 can be used in several powertrain configurations. These include:
- Providing 185 kW of power to arrays of electric propulsion motors and/or onboard battery packs in a series-hybrid architecture
- Directly driving propellers or rotors with up to 185 kW of shaft power from the diesel engine in a parallel-hybrid architecture
- Operating the generator as a motor powered by an onboard battery pack to provide up to 185 kW while sending the balance of the power from the diesel engine to power distributed electrical power arrays, active aerodynamics, onboard systems, and/or battery packs
- Operating in “burst power” mode, delivering the combined output of the diesel engine and the generator (operating as a motor powered by an onboard battery pack) for up to 370 kW of shaft power
- Configurations requiring both electrical and mechanical output, for which an optional shaft power output is available
VerdeGo Aero was formed in 2017 and is headquartered in Daytona Beach, Florida, close to the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The company has already started joint engineering work with aircraft developers who have selected it as a propulsion system partner.