Aerospace Systems: EPSRC Project EP/H004351/2: Feasibility Study of Energy Recovery from Landing aircraft (2010-11)

EPSRC Reference: EP/H004351/2
Title: Feasibility Study of Energy Recovery from Landing aircraft
Principal Investigator: Stewart, Professor PG
Other Investigators:
Zhong, Professor Q Eftekhari, Dr M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Airbus Group Limited

 The scope of this project is to define, analyse and quantify the technologies which will enable the conversion of the kinetic energy of a landing aircraft, via a suitable electromechanical interface via transient energy storage into long term energy storage or the electrical grid network. Any technologies which are identified as having potential will be analysed not only in terms of power conversion efficiency, but also ranked against practical performance metrics such as weight, robustness, cost, and ultimately energy/carbon savings. The project will primarily be conducted in simulation, however the novel nature of the approach will require some basic experimentation to be conducted to support and confirm the simulation results.

Power conversion in terms of this application is predicted to rely upon three basic technology areas to be researched:

1. Electromechanical energy conversion of the aircraft motion into electrical energy, via linear or rotary machine.

2. Power electronic energy conversion, transient energy storage, conditioning and distribution to long-term storage or the grid.

3. Structural stress analysis of the viability of the runway and conversion components to the forces generated.

There are two directions for the energy flow generated by the aircraft motion to be harvested. Firstly through a linear-type electromagnetic interface between the aircraft landing gear and the runway. Secondly, by a rotary electromechanical interface to energy storage on board the plane. In both cases, energy conversion, conditioning, energy storage and mechanical stress analysis is crucial. Although power regeneration into the aircraft has been dismissed in the past as being inefficient due to additional energy storage, it is proposed to analyse this method in the light of the developments associated with the More Electric Aircraft which has significant transient and long-term energy storage as part of its power systems structure. In addition, the next generation engines with embedded motor/generators on the engine shafts could possibly be used as a transient inertial energy storage when the engines are switched off. This is a prime example of the study not being restrained by contemporary thought, but looking forward to engage future technologies. This analysis will also draw upon experience by Prof. Stewart in electrically assisted aircraft braking performed in association with Messier-Bugatti, and More Electric Aircraft developments in collaboration with Airbus.The requirements of this project are to identify a family of potential solutions, and rank them according to a cost function based upon realistic performance metrics. In particular the strictures of ‘real’ aircraft operational constraints will be foremost in the performance analysis. The steering committee will be an important constituent of this approach, helping in the early stages to quantify this cost function.