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Revolutionary Aeropropulsion Concept for Sustainable Aviation: Turboelectric Distributed PropulsionIn response to growing aviation demands and concerns about the environment and energy usage, a team at NASA proposed and examined a revolutionary aeropropulsion concept, a turboelectric distributed propulsion system, which employs multiple electric motor-driven propulsors that are distributed on a large transport vehicle. The power to drive these electric propulsors is generated by separately located gas-turbine-driven electric generators on the airframe. This arrangement enables the use of many small-distributed propulsors, allowing a very high effective bypass ratio, while retaining the superior efficiency of large core engines, which are physically separated but connected to the propulsors through electric power lines. Because of the physical separation of propulsors from power generating devices, a new class of vehicles with unprecedented performance employing such revolutionary propulsion system is possible in vehicle design. One such vehicle currently being investigated by NASA is called the "N3-X" that uses a hybrid-wing-body for an airframe and superconducting generators, motors, and transmission lines for its propulsion system. On the N3-X these new degrees of design freedom are used (1) to place two large turboshaft engines driving generators in freestream conditions to minimize total pressure losses and (2) to embed a broad continuous array of 14 motor-driven fans on the upper surface of the aircraft near the trailing edge of the hybrid-wing-body airframe to maximize propulsive efficiency by ingesting thick airframe boundary layer flow. Through a system analysis in engine cycle and weight estimation, it was determined that the N3-X would be able to achieve a reduction of 70% or 72% (depending on the cooling system) in energy usage relative to the reference aircraft, a Boeing 777-200LR. Since the high-power electric system is used in its propulsion system, a study of the electric power distribution system was performed to identify critical dynamic and safety issues. This paper presents some of the features and issues associated with the turboelectric distributed propulsion system and summarizes the recent study results, including the high electric power distribution, in the analysis of the N3-X vehicle.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Kim, Hyun Dae
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Felder, James L.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Tong, Michael. T.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Armstrong, Michael
(Rolls-Royce North American Technologies, Inc. Indianapolis, IN, United States)
Date Acquired
March 31, 2014
Publication Date
September 9, 2013
Subject Category
Aircraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: 2013 International Society for Air Breathing Engines
Location: Busan
Country: Korea, Republic of
Start Date: September 9, 2013
End Date: September 13, 2013
Sponsors: International Society on Air Breathing Engines
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 473452.
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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