10.12.2019

New Hybrid engine for Group 3 systems

UAV Turbines unveils hybrid-electric ‘microturbine’ for drones – link

Source: Flight Global

Article Headlines

  • UAV Turbines unveiled a demonstrator hybrid-electric “microturbine” for small UAVs that it says allows drones to harness the efficiency of a turbine and the quick power of an electric motor
  • The Monarch Hybrid Range Extender is based on the company’s Monarch 5 turbine, a small turbine demonstrator the company unveiled in September in a Navmar Applied Sciences-made TigerShark, a small Group 3-size UAV usually powered by a piston engine
  • The use of electric-powered UAVs has increased dramatically in recent years by commercial and military operators as the cost of circuitry such as flight control equipment, electric motors and batteries has declined
  • In particular, quadcopters with electric propeller systems have proven simpler mechanically and easier to control than traditional piston or gas turbine helicopters
  • However, electric-powered UAVs have limited flight duration due to the power output of batteries, which have less energy density than liquid fuel used by piston or turbine engines. UAV Turbines is promising the best of both worlds
  • The company’s hybrid system uses a turbine to generate electricity, most of which is used to power electric motors that turn aircraft propellers, while the remaining electricity is siphoned off into a small battery
  • The system’s batteries serve as a reservoir of energy for flight manoeuvres that require extra power, such as vertical takeoff and landing
  • The Monarch Hybrid Range Extender can provide UAVs with up to 33shp (25kW)
  • The engine weights around 27kg and the total hybrid system weighs closer to 54kg

Overview & Comments

  • As small tactical systems gain momentum with growing endurance capabilities the engines powering are critical
  • Gas powered systems, such as Aeronautics’ Orbiter 4, have reached 25 hrs
  • Other systems developed, such the AFRL’s LEAP system, have proved two and a half days of flight, although not a lot is known regarding its power source and payload capacity
  • Proven Group 2 and 3 electrical systems are converting to hybrid engines to enhance their endurance to keep them relevant in the ever-growing demand for more capable flight time UAVs
  • However, at 54 kg the engine is heavy for the lower end of Group 3 systems but might suit bigger tactical systems

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