Today’s typical helicopters are powered by thermal engines that convert fossil fuels into energy. Thought to be perfect for air commute due to their potential to generate large portions of energy with a small mass of fossil fuels, they however are infamous for producing emissions like nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide (CO2).
The aviation business contributes round 2% of worldwide CO2 emissions. Primary efforts have already been made to restrict gasoline consumption in aviation, but clearly more has to be carried out – and helicopters are on the forefront of this effort. Thanks to their minuscule details’ dimension and low energy wants in comparison with more important mounted wing aircraft, helicopters are the best testbed for brand spanking new technologies.
The options being examined at the moment are many: from lowering the emissions output of typical thermal engines, to going for the holy grail of absolute electric flight – and every little thing in between. Airbus Helicopters’ long-term innovation roadmap includes exploring all options, brick by brick, and making incremental enhancements in direction of an emissions-lighter future.
“Our engineers have come a long way in making traditional technologies greener, working on a wide range of research projects that in some cases are already reducing emissions,” says Tomasz Krysinski, head of research and innovation at Airbus Helicopters.
“The recently certified H160 is the cleaner and quieter helicopter in its class, paving the way for a reduced environmental footprint in helicopter operations,” he adds.
Krysinski cites different tasks underway that aim to cut back gasoline consumption via a mix of improved aerodynamics, weight reduction, and extra environment friendly thermodynamic cycles, in hopes someday this will integrate such enhancements on different Airbus helicopter products.
According to Krysinski, the last step is to head to yet another variety of energy, which is likely to be hydrogen or gasoline cells. This know-how has made meaningful advances, in particular with fastened wing segment, but the ability necessities for a helicopter stay a challenge. That being said, Krysinski expects hydrogen applied sciences might be developed a lot to fly on a helicopter demonstrator as early as 2029.
There is as well as the electrically-powered “eco-mode”, which allows the pausing and restarting of a gas turbine in flight on twin-engine helicopters. Developed with Safran Helicopter Engines, and initially examined on the Bluecopter demonstrator (an H135 testbed), this expertise will generate gasoline savings at the same time growing the variety of helicopters.
The “eco-mode” can be examined subsequent on the Racer high-speed demonstrator presently being developed by Clear Sky 2 European study programme, whose goal is to achieve a 220kt cruise velocity at the same time chopping CO2, NOx and blast emissions by 20%, in comparison to present helicopters.
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