NASA is actively funding research into advanced, unconventional aircraft and engine architectures to achieve drastic reductions in vehicle fuel burn, noise, and emissions. One such concept is being explored by Boeing, General Electric, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech under the Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research (SUGAR) project . A major cornerstone of this research is evaluating the potential performance benefits that can be attributed to using hybrid electric propulsion. Hybrid electric propulsion in this context involves a non-Brayton power generation or storage source, such as a battery or a fuel cell, which can be used to provide additional propulsive energy to a conventional Brayton cycle powered turbofan engine. Employing additional power sources for thrust production increases the number of degrees of freedom both from a design and configuration standpoint and from an operational one. In order to assess and understand the myriad number of potential new configurations a modeling and simulation tool is needed; however, current state of the art propulsion modeling tools such as the Numerical Propulsion System Simulation (NPSS) are not natively capable of assessing novel hybrid electric configurations.
This research addresses the gap between hybrid electric propulsion and conventional cycle analysis tools by developing a suite of native NPSS elements suitable for hybrid electric engine cycle design and analysis. Elements have been developed for a fuel cell, battery, motor, generator, and electrical distribution system. Both room temperature and cryogenically cooled superconducting variants are developed. The elements are designed such that they can be seamlessly integrated into existing NPSS cycle models to assess any system configuration or architecture the designer can envision.