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Turboelectric Distributed Propulsion Engine Cycle Analysis for Hybrid-Wing-Body AircraftMeeting NASA's N+3 goals requires a fundamental shift in approach to aircraft and engine design. Material and design improvements allow higher pressure and higher temperature core engines which improve the thermal efficiency. Propulsive efficiency, the other half of the overall efficiency equation, however, is largely determined by the fan pressure ratio (FPR). Lower FPR increases propulsive efficiency, but also dramatically reduces fan shaft speed through the combination of larger diameter fans and reduced fan tip speed limits. The result is that below an FPR of 1.5 the maximum fan shaft speed makes direct drive turbines problematic. However, it is the low pressure ratio fans that allow the improvement in propulsive efficiency which, along with improvements in thermal efficiency in the core, contributes strongly to meeting the N+3 goals for fuel burn reduction. The lower fan exhaust velocities resulting from lower FPRs are also key to meeting the aircraft noise goals. Adding a gear box to the standard turbofan engine allows acceptable turbine speeds to be maintained. However, development of a 50,000+ hp gearbox required by fans in a large twin engine transport aircraft presents an extreme technical challenge, therefore another approach is needed. This paper presents a propulsion system which transmits power from the turbine to the fan electrically rather than mechanically. Recent and anticipated advances in high temperature superconducting generators, motors, and power lines offer the possibility that such devices can be used to transmit turbine power in aircraft without an excessive weight penalty. Moving to such a power transmission system does more than provide better matching between fan and turbine shaft speeds. The relative ease with which electrical power can be distributed throughout the aircraft opens up numerous other possibilities for new aircraft and propulsion configurations and modes of operation. This paper discusses a number of these new possibilities. The Boeing N2 hybrid-wing-body (HWB) is used as a baseline aircraft for this study. The two pylon mounted conventional turbofans are replaced by two wing-tip mounted turboshaft engines, each driving a superconducting generator. Both generators feed a common electrical bus which distributes power to an array of superconducting motor-driven fans in a continuous nacelle centered along the trailing edge of the upper surface of the wing-body. A key finding was that traditional inlet performance methodology has to be modified when most of the air entering the inlet is boundary layer air. A very thorough and detailed propulsion/airframe integration (PAI) analysis is required at the very beginning of the design process since embedded engine inlet performance must be based on conditions at the inlet lip rather than freestream conditions. Examination of a range of fan pressure ratios yielded a minimum Thrust-specific-fuel-consumption (TSFC) at the aerodynamic design point of the vehicle (31,000 ft /Mach 0.8) between 1.3 and 1.35 FPR. We deduced that this was due to the higher pressure losses prior to the fan inlet as well as higher losses in the 2-D inlets and nozzles. This FPR is likely to be higher than the FPR that yields a minimum TSFC in a pylon mounted engine. 1
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Glenn Research Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Felder, James L.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Kim, Hyun Dae
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Brown, Gerald V.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
August 27, 2013
Publication Date
January 5, 2009
Subject Category
Aircraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: AIAA Aerospace Science Meeting
Location: Orlando, FL
Country: United States
Start Date: January 5, 2009
End Date: January 8, 2009
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 561581.
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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