With our cities growing overly crowded by the hour, the aviation and even the automotive industries have embraced the mobility promises offered by vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) passenger aircraft, but also by small commuter planes now being cooked up all over the world.
Many companies are presently testing new designs for both kinds of aircraft, and even if none of them is production-ready, it's clear someday, probably soon, they will be.
And that means a lot of opened doors for companies not directly involved in the design of these machines, but with an interest in becoming suppliers for the nascent market. Companies like Rolls-Royce, a name so powerful in the aviation industry there was no way it was going to miss out on this opportunity.
The Brits are currently working on several tech solutions for new VTOL and aircraft makers, and the most recent to be announced is a lightweight turbogenerator system destined to be used in VTOLs and small commuter planes with a capacity of up to 19 people. Some helicopters, but also military applications, are also being considered.
The tech is supposed to be scalable, meaning it can offer power outputs of between 500 kW and 1,200 kW. It is to be used as an aid for engines running on SAF, but also on hydrogen, for when this type of fuel will become commonplace in the industry.
If deployed as a system in an electric aircraft, the turbogenerator will help with increasing the range of the batteries. It can be deployed in serial or parallel hybrid applications and can be used to either recharge batteries or directly supply power to propulsion units.
The tech, which at the time of writing does not wear a commercial name, is currently entering the testing stages over at Rolls-Royce. The company announced this week it conducted the first fuel burn of the gas turbine that is at the core of the generator. No exact details on the test were provided, other than teams gaining "highly relevant knowledge" about the system.
Tests will continue over at Rolls' labs, with no timetable provided as to when the complete power-dense turbogenerator will be ready. Chances are updates will be provided often now that the tech has moved into this new stage.