Rolls-Royce has announced a potential partnership with the Brandenburg Technical University (BTU) in Cottbus-Senftenberg, Germany, to pioneer the development of novel hybrid-electric propulsion systems in the 400- to 1,000-kilowatt range.
The formal launch of the program is subject to appropriate approvals and regulatory clearances, the company said. If successful, the initiative would be co-funded by the State of Brandenburg and Rolls-Royce over the next six years, with the goal of developing Brandenburg’s hybrid-electric capabilities and creating a “regional ecosystem” that could significantly enlarge the capabilities at Rolls-Royce’s site in Dahelwitz, Germany.
The announcement comes soon after Rolls-Royce revealed its planned acquisition of Siemens’ eAircraft business, which employs around 180 specialist electrical designers and engineers in Germany and Hungary.
“Developing world-class hybrid electric power and propulsion systems represents a significant opportunity for Rolls-Royce, which we are pursuing globally with vigor and focus,” stated Dr. Dirk Geisinger, director of business aviation and chairman of Rolls-Royce Deutschland, in a press release. “With the acquisition of the Siemens eAircraft business, we are investing in in Germany and Hungary already. Adding Brandenburg with the BTU and regional partners to that effort would be an exciting next step.”
Rolls-Royce said that details of the program will be agreed upon before the end of 2019.
The company’s activities in Germany will complement its significant electrical projects in the United Kingdom, as well as its electrical interests in the United States and Singapore. In the U.K., Rolls-Royce is leading and developing a range of electrical capabilities with support from the U.K. government. These include an all-electric demonstrator aircraft, as part of the ACCEL initiative, that will attempt to break the world speed record for all-electric flight, alongside partners including electric motor and controller manufacturer YASA and the aviation start-up Electroflight.
Rolls-Royce engineers based in the U.K., U.S., and Singapore have also developed and successfully ground-tested a hybrid-electric propulsion system based on the M250 gas turbine engine, which could be used across a range of smaller transport platforms including eVTOLs, general aviation aircraft, and hybrid helicopters.
Last year, the company unveiled an eVTOL concept that could be powered by such a hybrid solution. Rolls-Royce has also partnered with Aston Martin and Cranfield University’s Cranfield Aerospace Solutions on the Volante Vision Concept, which will explore the potential for a flying autonomous hybrid-electric vehicle.