Honeywell’s 1MW generator for hybrid-electric aircraft passes testing milestone


Honeywell’s 1MW generator, which is intended for use by hybrid-electric aircraft, has successfully completed its first round of testing.

According to Honeywell the generator is the industry’s first aerospace-grade electric machine that can also be used as a 1MW motor without modifications.

The megawatt generator operated at 1.02 MVA (~1MW@ unity power factor) power levels during successful testing. The test demonstration ran continuously at 900 kilowatts, highlighting the megawatt generator’s high-power density (~8kw/kg) and efficiency (~97%), both characteristics that are required for hybrid-electric propulsion in aerospace applications.

The turbogenerator is a combination of a Honeywell 1MW generator and HGT1700 auxiliary power unit, which is currently flown on every Airbus A350 XWB. The 280 lbs (127kg) power unit will be able to run on biofuel, jet fuel and diesel and is designed to provide power to high-power electric motors or batteries in heavy-lift cargo drones, air taxis and commuter aircraft.

The generator weighs 280 lbs (127kg) and delivers enough energy to power an entire neighborhood block. Its compact size, low system weight and fuel savings translate into sustainable and operational benefits for hybrid-electric propulsion and other applications such as mobile charging stations, turbogenerator systems that can be flown in remote areas, and directed energy systems, said Honeywell.

Dave Marinick, president of engines and power systems at Honeywell Aerospace said, “Our megawatt generator is a new addition to our extensive portfolio and an industry first. It represents an important step in providing scalable solutions that advance industry innovation and support more sustainable and efficient operations.

“Essential high power, through advanced and compact technology such as this, impacts both the future of flight and of hybrid-electric aerospace propulsion.”

Taylor Alberstadt, senior director of electric and hybrid electric propulsion for Honeywell Aerospace said, “Our megawatt generator provides power levels several times higher than those available today while still meeting aerospace expectations around size and weight.

“Additionally, the megawatt generator’s potential to be seamlessly integrated with our existing gas turbine engines to create the most power-dense turbogenerators in the industry, including the ability to run on sustainable aviation fuels, is also exciting and will usher in an era of cleaner and less expensive air travel.”

The turbogenerator solutions can provide electricity to operate high-power electric motors, charge batteries, or in required cases mechanically drive a propeller to satisfy missions from heavy-lift cargo drones to air taxis and commuter aircraft.

The team is currently increasing the capability of the setup to support testing continuous operation at higher power levels.

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Honeywell testing high-power generator for hybrid electric aircraft

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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