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Efficient and Light Electrical Compressor for Tilt-Rotor Aircraft

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ELECTRA (Efficient and Light Electrical Compressor for Tilt-Rotor Aircraft)

Reporting period: 2020-08-01 to 2022-01-31

The ELECTRA project aims to develop an optimal architecture for a bleedless cabin compressor system, to develop, manufacture, test and qualify the compressor hardware which will be tested on the Leonardo next-generation tiltrotor technology demonstrator aircraft during a flight test campaign. The project objectives are minimal weight and power consumption, leading to improved aircraft fuel consumption, and minimal temperature rise, leading to sizing and efficiency benefits in the aircraft’s cabin cooling system. An economy mode designed into the system allows reduction of the fresh air flow at lower aircraft occupancy, leading to energy consumption benefits. In addition, the oil-less compressor eliminates the risk of smoke or fume-in-cabin events associated with engine bleed air offtakes.

The ELECTRA system concept is determined in the beginning of the project, by system trade-off studies. The concept is matured into a preliminary design using extensive system simulations in MATLAB and in SimScape, and the design is optimised specifically for the application using a multi-parameter optimisation platform for electric compressors, yielding optimal weight, power consumption and outlet temperature rise. The design for the electric compressor pack is realised in hardware and a system test rig is developed. The system will be tested on the system test rig, in environmental test labs, and be ready for test and qualification of Cabin Pressurisation System hardware suitable for flight testing on the Next-Generation Civil TiltRotor (NextGenCTR) for the Fast RotorCraft (FRC) platform of the Clean Sky 2 JU.
In the beginning of the project, the system concept of the aircraft electric compressor system was determined after a broad trade-off analysis of architectures and reviews with experts from Leonardo Helicopters, the Topic Manager for ELECTRA. Subsequently, the concept was advanced into a preliminary design using extensive system simulations in MATLAB and in SimScape, and the design was optimised specifically for the target aircraft application using a multi-parameter optimisation platform for electric compressors, yielding optimal weight, power consumption and outlet temperature rise. After the PDR, the design was matured into a detailed design of the complete aircraft electric compressor pack, suitable for flight test. After the critical design review by the team together with Leonardo Helicopters, manufacturing of the components started. At the end of the reporting period, hardware items started coming in, which the team will assemble into compressor packs to test on the dedicated test rigs during the next reporting period.
The electric cabin compressor system promises significant benefits for direct application in aircraft such as the next-generation tiltrotor because of improvements in efficiency, flexibility, maintainability and purity of its air output, in comparison to bleed-air systems. In addition, electric cabin compressors will become a necessity in future pressurized aircraft if they are based on (battery or fuel cell) electric propulsion.
ELECTRA cabin air electric compressor pack - CDR design
ELECTRA cabin electric compressor pack