GKN Aerospace is teaming with Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) to develop an electric fan thruster for a program called EleFanT. In an October 5 announcement, the partners said they started working in July on the propulsion system, which could provide sufficient power for a small regional airliner.
The 18-month project will focus on the aerodynamic design, performance, noise, and manufacturing technology required for a new ducted fan. The joint GKN/KTH team will also determine whether the electric power should be based on batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, or some sort of hybrid propulsion powertrain.
According to GKN, a ducted fan will be quieter and safer than a conventional propeller powerplant for a regional airliner. No specific application, whether it be a new aircraft design or a reconfigured model, has yet been announced.
“We are very positive about this initiative, which helps us to become part of the solution to aviation’s climate challenge,” said Henrik Runnemaim, vice president of GKN’s global technology center in Trollhattan, Sweden. “We will benefit greatly from GKN Aerospace and KTH’s long experience in turbomachines, lightweight construction, and advanced manufacturing technology. From an electrification and sustainability perspective, the project is strongly aligned with our recently announced H2Gear and H2Jet programs.”
The $2.8 million H2Jet project was announced on July 14 and involves efforts to develop a hydrogen propulsion system in a partnership involving GKN, the Swedish Energy Agency, Chalmers University of Technology, Lund University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, University West, Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), and Oxeon.