This week Boeing was issued a patent for a new type of hybrid turbine engine. Traditionally electric engines are not feasible for aviation purposes, as they either do not provide enough power or the batteries required make the plane too heavy. Disclosed in this patent is a method to run both a traditional gas turbine engine and an electric rotary fan motor from the same drive. The two engines’ operation from the same drive mechanism creates a hybrid-type propulsion system while minimizing the weight needed for batteries.
The implementation of the rotary fan is what makes this patent interesting. The fan has the capability to rotate so that it can provide thrust in multiple directions and be disengaged and hidden within the wing during gas-only operation. These fans could be used for extra thrust on take-off or landing, the most energy-intensive parts of the flight, enabling the plane to use a more efficient engine while cruising. During flight, electric energy can be harvested from the main gas turbine and store enough energy to operate the electric engines upon landing.
Written by John DeStefano, Technical Advisor
March 9, 2021