The DLR Institute of Electrified Aero Engines was founded in 2020 at DLR's Cottbus site with funding from the Structural Strengthening Act for Coal Regions. Its research focuses on low-emission, usually highly electrified future aircraft engines for civilian transport aircraft. The areas of research are oriented towards alternative aircraft engines, including those based on hydrogen, which initially have exacting technical requirements due to their significantly increased system complexity. At the same time, however, they also have the potential to be quieter and more environmentally friendly. For example, conventional aircraft engines could be supplemented or completely replaced by new concepts. Such concepts go hand in hand with increased demands on intelligent control systems to ensure safe and efficient operation at all times. In addition, certification rules for these rapidly changing propulsion concepts must be developed together with partners and the relevant authorities in order to meet the corresponding international air transport requirements.
Research and services
One important area of focus for the Institute's work is the reliable modelling, improvement and further development of elements of alternative new propulsion systems, with an emphasis on energy conversion and integration. This has provided a sound technological basis for further integration and systems research. The composition of the available mechanical, electrical and auxiliary component technologies, and the interrelationships between them are being analysed on the basis of precise and comprehensive descriptions and modelling, with the aim of creating hybrid-electric power trains.
Another strand of research selects the most promising components and combines them into new propulsion system architectures that meet previously defined performance and safety requirements. These performance requirements, which change during the different phases of flight, determine the operating parameters for the interacting components of alternative future propulsion systems. The Institute is therefore developing concepts and technologies for optimised operational control of novel powertrains, which are usually turbo-electric or hybrid-electric.
The validation of newly developed theoretical models and assessment of the uncertainties that are to be expected can only be quantified correctly by conducting experimental tests. The Institute of Electrified Aero Engines will use its infrastructure to organise the construction, operation and ongoing adaptation of experiments to investigate novel propulsion systems for air transport, most of them hybrid-electric. Its experimental work will focus on selected system components and systems integration activities.